While the Chinese planning system is vitally important to the rapid development which has been taking place over the past three decades, this is the first text to provide a comprehensive examination and critical evaluation of this system. It sets the current system in historical context and explains the hierarchy of government departments responsible for planning and construction, the different types of plans produced and recent urban planning innovations which have been put into practice. Illustrated with boxed empirical case studies, it shows the problems faced by the planning system in facing the uncertainty in the market economy. In all, it provides readers with a full understanding of a complex and powerful system which is very distinct from other planning systems around the world. As such, it is essential reading for all students interested in the current development taking place in China and, in addition, to planning students with a general interest in planning systems and theory.