Importing Export Zones: Replication of Chinese-style Special Economic Zones and the Implications for India’s Urban Development

Project status


As a result of China’s economic success, other developing nations have turned to the “China model”, notably the creation of export-oriented “special economic zones” (SEZs). China’s SEZs produced remarkable impacts for development, structural transformation and urbanisation, including rapid expansion of infrastructure and large-scale changes to urban living and governance. To what extent and through what mechanisms is the Chinese experience replicated elsewhere? What are the effects of attempted replication? These are fundamental questions for understanding new patterns of global development, including urbanisation. This project seeks to answer these questions through close study of urbanisation in India, where older export zones have been transformed into new city-style SEZs similar to the Chinese model and often with Chinese involvement. It examines the extent to which China’s experience provides lessons for global development, and aims to establish a new framework for a critical approach to the transmission of development policy and practice from China.

Research team

Dr Charlotte Goodburn, King's College London; Dr Jan Knoerich, King's College London; Dr S Manasi, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), India; Dr Malini Tantri, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), India

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