Mao’s Steeltown: industrial city, colonial legacies, and local political economy in early communist China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the construction of industrial cities in the early years of the People’s Republic of China (PRC; 1949-) by focusing on Anshan—a major steel city in Manchuria (Northeast China) that had been constructed by the Japanese prior to 1945. I demonstrate that the PRC industrial cities embodied the nature and limits of the new socialist regime’s vision of industrialization. The early PRC overwhelmingly focused its resources on heavy industry, which translated into the financial and bureaucratic superiority of industrial enterprises to city governments. The early PRC industrial cities drew from not only the Soviet urban-planning model but also the legacies of pre-revolutionary regimes, even including imperial Japan. The construction of industrial cities was driven by negotiations among various actors including city officials, enterprise managers, and domestic migrants. Building on the multi-layered local, national, and transnational forces, the industrial city of Anshan was a microcosm of the early PRC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-110
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Urban History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • colonialism
  • Manchukuo
  • Manchuria
  • Maoism
  • migration
  • the People’s Republic of China
  • urban history
  • urban planning

Cite this