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Tourism Management 33 (2012) 988 998

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Heritage protection and tourism development priorities in Hangzhou, China:

A political economy and governance perspective
Yi Wang a, Bill Bramwell b, *

Nottingham Business School Ningbo, University of Nottingham Ningbo, 199 Taikang East Road, Ningbo, China
Shefeld Hallam University, Shefeld Business School, Howard Street, Shefeld S1 1WB, UK

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 11 July 2011
Accepted 23 October 2011

Government interventions can be important for determining priorities between heritage protection and
tourism related development at heritage sites. This paper uses a political economy approach to examine
the governments role in determining these priorities in China, for two heritage schemes at West Lake in
the city of Hangzhou. The study considers policy making for heritage protection and tourism develop
ment in the context of broad economic and political circumstances, the power and inuence of different
actors in the schemes governance, strategic selectivity in the policy choices, and whether views about
the policies exhibited a uniform hegemony among powerful and less inuential groups. Consideration is
given to how the relative priority for heritage protection and tourism development in policies reected
the states regulation of the economy and maintenance of its political legitimacy. A powerful policy
community was found that was beginning to consider other actors views, but tourism development
remained a prominent driver.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Heritage protection
Tourism development
Political economy
Policy community

1. Introduction
The governance of heritage can be fraught with tensions
between the requirements of protection and conservation and the
opportunities for commercial and economic development. On the
one hand, historic resources can be valorised to facilitate revenue
generation and economic growth through tourism, real estate
development and place marketing. The commercial use of historic
assets thus can promote local socio economic development. Heri
tage resources and their conservation sometimes have acted as, or
been part of, urban regeneration or rural revitalisation schemes in
that they have become integral with neoliberal strategies to improve
the competitiveness of places in the global capitalist economy
(Harvey, 2005). On the other hand, commercial activities may
damage historic resources, through physical damage caused by
tourist use or through commoditization, trivialisation and stand
ardisation (Ho & McKercher, 2004). Yet, attempts to preserve local
historic resources that deny socio economic development can
condemn places to economic impoverishment (Yang, Wall, & Smith,
2008). The commercial use of heritage may also be considered
necessary in order to generate the funding required to protect it
(Chhabra, 2009). As Timothy (2007, p. xvi) notes: Without an

* Corresponding author. Tel.: 44 (0)114 2255555; fax: 44 (0)114 2255036.

E-mail address: (B. Bramwell).
0261-5177/$ see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

economic justication, conservation policies and practices in many

places would not be established or justied in the minds of
community members and leaders. Thus, the use of heritage for
tourism and related commercial activities can involve mutual
benets, but it may also entail trade offs and the loss of irreplaceable
features of our past.
There are numerous studies illustrating specic places where
either heritage conservation or tourism growth has taken prece
dence (McKercher & du Cros, 2002; McKercher, Ho, & du Cros,
2005), and it is important to provide sound explanations of the
processes behind those outcomes. This paper examines governance
processes that affect relations between heritage protection and
tourism related economic growth. It considers the relative priority
given to heritage and to tourism, and the potential tensions and
mutual benets between them. It is set in the context of China, with
its distinctive and rapidly evolving socio economic and political
system. It is, therefore, of both global relevance and of special
relevance to China (Soeld & Li, 2011).
The concept of governance concerns how societies are governed,
ruled or steered, and thus it involves the processes for regulating
and mobilising social action and for producing social order
(Bramwell & Lane, 2011). Such regulation and mobilisation usually
involves collective action and coordination, with heritage protec
tion often depending on such collective responses. Governance is
considered to be broader than government, in recognition that
often it is not just the formal agencies of government that are

Y. Wang, B. Bramwell / Tourism Management 33 (2012) 988 998

involved in the coordinating tasks of governance: business,

community and other actors potentially can also be involved. In
recent years increasingly complex multi agency governance
patterns have emerged in many developed economies, including in
relation to heritage (Jessop, 2008; Wu, 2002). Governance can be
characterised by more diffuse policy networks and markets, as
found in many advanced capitalist nations, or by a comparatively
dominant hierarchical state, as occurs in China (Bevir, 2009).
This paper explores how governance can affect the relative
priorities at heritage sites given to heritage protection or conser
vation and to tourism related economic development. It uses the
theoretical lens of political economy, drawing on ideas developed
by Karl Marx (1818e1883), political economist Antonio Gramsci
(1891e1937), and more recently by sociologist Bob Jessop (1946 ).
In political economy, the social system is considered to constitute
a whole, so societys varied aspects are parts of the whole
(Bramwell, 2011; Mosedale, 2011). The driving forces of change in
the social system relate to oppositions and conicts within and
between the elements of this whole. This approach suggests that
the political sphere associated with governance is strongly related
to the economic, social and cultural spheres. Political economy
emphasises how economic relations can inuence other social,
cultural and political relationships, including governance.
Political economy is used in this paper to examine the gover
nance of heritage and tourism in the West Lake historic district on
the east edge of Hangzhous city centre, in east China. Hangzhou is
a major city located only 150 km from Shanghai, with a population
of over six million people. A large lake dominates West Lake historic
district, but it also includes numerous religious, cultural and
historical sites. The landscape of lake, hills and historical sites has
evolved over many centuries and it conforms to traditional Chinese
aesthetics as highly harmonised (Soeld & Li, 2011; UNESCO, 2008).
This complex landscape is well known in China, but it is increasingly
threatened by tourism and other commercial pressures. Hangzhou
is a major tourism centre in China, and West Lake has been its iconic
draw card. There is growing recognition of the importance of pro
tecting West Lakes heritage, but there is also much emphasis on its
tourism value and its positive image for Hangzhou as an economic
centre. The study focuses on two specic heritage schemes at West
Lake: Mei Jia Wu Tea Area and Leifeng Pagoda.
The case assessed here, therefore, is in a socialist country with
a Communist Party led state and a socio economic system that
combines capitalism and socialism (White, 2002). The continuity of
the Chinese Communist Partys rule and of socialist principles and
political institutions is a striking feature of contemporary China
(Sun, 2008). Authority in China is derived ultimately from a single,
exceedingly centralised source on high (Shue, 2008, p. 141), so that
the central state and Communist Party are highly inuential. But
even here local government and other actors have scope to inu
ence governance processes (Yan & Bramwell, 2008). This dispersal
of governance was encouraged by reforms begun by Deng Xiaop
ings 1978 Open Door policies, which retained the Communist
Party and the states dominance, but led to capitalisms dramatic
growth and increasing decentralisation in policy making. The study
focuses in this political system on how and why governance deci
sions were made associated with the relative priority given to
heritage protection and tourism related economic growth at
Hangzhous West Lake. It is important to understand how Chinas
distinctive socio economic and political system affects governance
decisions concerning heritage tourism relations. These decisions
are of major signicance as China has rapidly become the fourth
most visited international destination in the world, while its
domestic tourism industry is perhaps unrivalled (Soeld & Li, 2011).
The study explains, rst, the political economy approach used to
analyse the governance of heritage protection and tourism related


economic development at West Lake. Second, it explores Hang

zhous economic and political circumstances that helped shape
policy priorities for heritage and tourism in the two West Lake
schemes under scrutiny. It considers, third, the actors involved in
the schemes governance, their power relations and their inuence
on policy making. Fourth, it details whether and how the schemes
policy makers privileged heritage protection or economic devel
opment. There is consideration, nally, of whether views about
using heritage and tourism in the schemes were shared by
powerful and less inuential groups.
2. Political economy, governance and heritage-tourism
The political economy approach provides distinctive perspec
tives on the objectives of government policies for heritage protec
tion and tourism development.
Marx famously argued that market forces are inherently unstable.
This was because they lead to capital over accumulation and thus to
periodic crises, and also because they encourage unstable social
relations and conicts. In political economy the governance institu
tions, and notably the state, are considered to be important in regu
lating the economic and political system in order to mitigate the
contradictions and crises created by market forces, and to promote
the systems reproduction (Bevir, 2009; Cornelissen, 2011; Peet,
2007). A key role for the state is intervention to encourage the
conditions for capital accumulation and economic expansion (Bevir,
2009). At the same time, the state seeks to ensure it maintains its
ability adequately to reect the popular will (Goodwin & Painter,
1996; Peck & Tickell, 1992). If the state lacks legitimacy, then sus
tained economic activity is hampered. Purcell and Nevins (2005, pp.
212e13) suggest that In order to maintain political legitimacy and
effective authority over its people, the state must reproduce a politi
cally stable relationship between the state and citizen.
Political economy suggests that the state can tend to give priority
to the economy as this produces the wealth which provides income
for the state and also for the population that provides the states
political support (Jessop, 2008). Thus, the state may often intervene
in favour of economic over heritage conservation priorities (Harvey,
2010). When priority is given to economic growth through tourism
then heritage protection may be neglected or traded off.
Political economy also indicates why the state may intervene to
promote heritage conservation and to protect heritage from
damaging tourism development. One explanation is that the state
may decide to protect heritage resources from tourism activities if it
is considered that their loss or deterioration may reduce the
potential for present and future rounds of capital accumulation
(While, Jonas, & Gibbs, 2010). Market forces can make actors focus
on short term economic returns to the detriment of heritage
conservation, even if the heritage resources are required to sustain
future economic returns, and thus this can prompt government
intervention (although the state may also focus on securing
immediate economic returns). Another explanation for state
sponsored heritage protection is that there is usually an expecta
tion that government will intervene to avert major damage to
societys historical and cultural assets, not least to promote the
states political and cultural legitimacy and to maintain its authority
(Harvey, 1996). In practice the state will usually intervene to secure
some sort of balance between economic development and heritage
protection because this is likely to gain quite wide support,
although this intervention will impinge on the interests of some
groups and thus it may result in conict.
Political economy, secondly, provides distinctive perspectives on
the policy processes affecting heritage tourism relations. It suggests,
for example, that often there are several agents seeking to inuence


Y. Wang, B. Bramwell / Tourism Management 33 (2012) 988 998

policy making, and that the associated policy networks involve

interests and power relations (Kickert, Klijn, & Koppenjan, 1997, p. 1).
According to Long (2004, p. 30), power in such networks is the
outcome of complex struggles and negotiations over authority,
status, reputation and resources. Within policy networks there
may be a policy community, which Rhodes (1999) depicts as
characterised by the most powerful policy decision makers and by
a relatively restrictive membership. There may be other actors that
cooperate with policy community members, but less regularly and
they are less inuential in policy decisions, and these are identied in
this study as contributing actors. For political economy, therefore,
power is a key element of policy making processes.
Gramsci (1971) examined more particularly how powerful
groups may promote ideological hegemony for their own interests,
including through the states activities. Hegemony is considered to
involve sets of values and attitudes which many people endorse and
that support the interests of inuential groups. These values and
attitudes are made to appear as the natural way of thinking and
believing, and powerful groups may seek to promote this (Peet,
2007). Yet, Gramsci considers there are often conicts around
hegemony (Avdikos 2011). He explains that the fact of hegemony
undoubtedly presupposes that the interests and tendencies of the
groups over which hegemony is to be exercised are taken into
account.that is, the ruling group makes sacrices of an economic
corporate kind, but it is also indubitable that such sacrices and such
compromises cannot affect what is essential (Gramsci, 1971, p. 161).
He also suggests that struggles over interests and values mean that
less powerful groups can hold oppositional beliefs (Peet, 2007).
Political economy highlights the signicance of economic and
power relations, but political economists such as Jessop (2008) also
contend that policy interventions do not result from a deterministic
logic. Instead, they suggest that, while economic and power rela
tions are important, policy decisions also involve personal
perceptions and attitudes, and decisions in response to specic
circumstances found at particular conjunctures. This transforms
the perspective into a way of analyzing a determinable but open
historical process (Peet, 1998, p. 79), and it stresses agency as well
as structure (Bramwell, 2006; Long, 2001, 2004). Jessop (2008)
argues that actors involved in governance are capable of taking
a strategic view of structural constraints and of developing their
views and selecting their actions within those constraints, doing so
in the context of specic circumstances at particular conjunctures.
Through this strategic selectivity actors can transform social
structures (Bramwell, 2011). For Jessop (1990, p. 221), governance is
regarded as a system of strategic selectivity and the nature of
political struggle as a eld of competing strategies for hegemony.
Political economy is not widely used in research on tourism
governance. Tourism policy making research has often focused on
describing the networks of policy related interactions, including
the interactions between actors related to the policy process (Pforr,
2006; Scott, Baggio, & Cooper, 2008; Scott, Cooper, & Baggio, 2008).
While many studies of tourism governance recognise the inuence
of power and contests over resources, relatively few of them
consistently apply social theory to explain those relations (Hall,
2005). Social theory consists of groupings of ideas that provide
broad explanations of society. In particular, only a modest amount
of work on tourism governance uses political economy, an
approach that deals simultaneously with broad social, political and
economic processes, and that considers the inuence of economic
pressures on tourism policies. Political economy ideas are used, for
example, by Hall (1994, 2006) to examine the local states roles in
developing sport mega events, by Bianchi (2004) to evaluate the
politics of tourism planning in the Spanish Canary Islands, and by
Bramwell and Meyer (2007) to explore policies for tourism and the
environment in former East Germany.

Some studies of heritage tourism evaluate the priorities for

heritage protection and tourism development, with a much smaller
number discussing these priorities in relation to different actors
and social forces, and to their inuence on governance (Hampton,
2005; Johnson, 1999). Harrison (2004, p. 285) suggests that the
governance of heritage tourism involves a process in which
numerous groups and agencies jockey for inuence and power.
Such inuences on the governance of heritage and tourism are
considered by Warren (1998) in a study of the politics of tourism
development near a temple in Bali, and by Henderson (2000) in an
examination of cultural heritage and tourism policies for Singa
pores Chinatown. In these studies the state often emerges as
a signicant inuence on heritage and tourism development.
Soeld and Li (1998, 2011), for instance, describe the increasing
enthusiasm for tourism of central and local government in China
after 1978 and its implications for the uses of heritage and for
heritage protection. There is scope for more research, however, that
critically examines the inuences on the priorities in heritage
tourism relations. More specically, more research on heritage
tourism might usefully employ ideas from political economy, one
reason being that this encourages consideration of the potential
interconnections between heritage, tourism, power, values and
attitudes, the state and the economy.
The political economy perspective outlined here is used in the
study to evaluate why and how governance affected the relative
priorities given to heritage protection and tourism related
economic development in two schemes at Hangzhous West Lake.

3. The case of West Lake

Because of its scenic West Lake, Hangzhou enjoys a reputation as
a paradise on the earth in Chinese poetry, and West Lake historic
district is widely recognised in China for its harmonious cultural
landscape and rich historical relics (Zhang, 2004). One of many
legends enhancing West Lakes tourist appeal depicts the lake as
a pearl from heaven that was carved and polished by a dragon and
a phoenix, and when the pearl fell to earth it changed into the West
Lake, and the dragon and phoenix become its adjacent hills (Yan,
2003). West Lake is Hangzhous primary tourist draw card, and in
2008 the city attracted 43.4 million domestic and 2.2 million inter
national tourists (Hangzhou Statistics Bureau, 2009; Hangzhou
Tourism Committee, 2009; Li, 2007).
West Lake fringes Hangzhous city centre so it is affected by the
citys growth and real estate development, and it attracts
substantial tourist numbers. In the late 1990s the city government
realised that these pressures could damage West Lakes environ
ment and tourist appeal so it established West Lake Scenic District
Management Committee (shortened here to West Lake Manage
ment Committee) to plan the district and to manage its tourism,
along with Hangzhou Tourism Committee (Hangzhou Municipal
Government, 2006). In 2002 West Lake Management Committee
and Hangzhou Tourism Committee established the West Lake
Protection Project. One important stimulus behind this Project was
the desire for West Lake district to be a UNESCO World Heritage
Site: it is vital for West Lake to gain UNESCO designation as it is
such a precious historical and cultural site (WLMC, 2000, p. 2;
Ryan, Chaozhi, & Zeng, 2011). UNESCO had previously declined its
designation due to the dramatic reduction in the lake surface by
human activities, damage to historical relics, and the negative
inuences from urban modernity (UNESCO, 1999, 2003, p. 14). The
study examines two schemes in the West Lake Protection Project
that combine heritage protection and commercial tourism devel
opment: the Mei Jia Wu Tea Area and Leifeng Pagoda schemes. The
background to each of these schemes is explained subsequently.

Y. Wang, B. Bramwell / Tourism Management 33 (2012) 988 998

4. Study methods
Research on the two schemes covered the period 2002e2007.
Information was obtained from interviews, government documents
(including minutes of West Lake Protection Project meetings), four
local newspapers, promotional materials, blog websites, and site
observations. Purposive sampling for the interviews included actors
who were information rich and participants in key policy processes
or actors directly affected by them. Several respondents were identi
ed from interviewee responses about other actors involved in, or
affected by, the West Lake Protection Project and the two schemes.
Questions in the in depth, semi structured interviews were used
exibly according to the respondents roles and experience, and
probing explored the ideas that emerged. Each interview lasted
between one hour and one and a half hours and all were recorded.
Themes and issues in the interview transcripts were explored using N
Vivo software and Ritchie and Spencers (1994) framework approach
for qualitative data analysis. The same themes were considered when
consulting the documents and reecting on the site visits.
During the rst intensive eldwork phase in 2005, 37 interviews
were conducted with 22 government ofcials, nine private sector
actors, three tourism experts, and three community members
(including a villager and village committee member from Mei Jia
Wu). The government ofcials included two from the National
Tourism Administration, two from the Zhejiang Provincial Tourism
Administration and Zhejiang Provincial Peoples Congress, and 18
from the city government (including Hangzhou Legislation Ofce,
Hangzhou Tourism Committee, West Lake Management Committee,
Hangzhou City Planning Bureau and Hangzhou Environment
Protection Bureau). The interviews focused on decision making for
West Lake Protection Project and for the two schemes in this project.
They included questions on actors that were involved or affected and
their objectives, the actors interactions around this policy making,
and their views about these issues. During the second intensive
eldwork phase in 2006, an additional 22 interviews were con
ducted with six government ofcials, three private sector actors,
three tourism experts, and 10 community members (ve villagers
from Mei Jia Wu, three residents living near Leifeng Pagoda, and two
residents living near another West Lake scheme). The interviews
were with people also included in the rst eldwork period, but for
community members only three of the 10 had been interviewed
before. These interviews concentrated in more depth on certain
issues about the West Lake Protection Project, notably on the
decentralisation of governance and on power relations, and the Mei
Jia Wu and Leifeng Pagoda schemes were explored in more detail.
5. Results and discussion
5.1. Economic and political context
The structural context of Chinas recent economic and political
development inuenced the approach taken to heritage protection
and tourism development at West Lake. As explained earlier, within
a political economy approach all aspects of society are viewed as
inter connected with the broad economic and political environ
ment (Jessop, 2008). Thus, West Lake must be considered in rela
tion to wider economic and political trends. A key feature of these
trends has been Chinas transition to a more market oriented
economy within a socialist society, with this prompted by Deng
Xiaopings economic reforms announced in 1978. Since then the
Communist Party has emphasised the construction of a capitalist
market economy that incorporates neoliberal elements together
with authoritarian centralised control (Harvey, 2005).
Political economy suggests that changes in the economic foun
dation eventually are likely to affect the realm of superstructure,


including societys governance. In this context, Chinas expanding

market economy has been accompanied by a decentralisation of
governance away from Beijing, and local initiatives have helped to
pioneer the way to a new social order (Harvey, 2005; Jin & Zou,
2003; Zhang, 2006). Fiscal decentralisation has been important,
with local government allowed to control a larger proportion of tax
revenue, and cities have gained powers to fund projects by selling
the rights to develop real estate, while still retaining public land
ownership (Wu, 2002; Wu & Zhang, 2007). As a result, local
governments have transformed from passive regulators in the
previous planned economy to entrepreneurial agents that initiate
local developments (Oi, 1995, p. 1145; Shin, 2010). According to
Zhang (2002a, p. 303), In the eld of urban development, it is now
the municipalities rather than central government that are shaping
Chinas urban landscape.
The changes mean that Hangzhous city government has gained
far greater funding and also economic, administrative and planning
powers to make key decisions affecting West Lakes heritage and
tourism development (Lewis & Xue, 2003; White, 2002). Further,
the West Lake Protection Project did not require approval from the
provincial government, although in practice it did endorse it. Yet
Hangzhou is not completely free to make its own decisions. One
top down inuence is that many of the citys politicians are
Communist Party cadres who seek to carry out the Partys national
policies (F. Qian, 2007, Z. Qian, 2007). Central government has
substantial inuence on key municipal appointments, with party
secretaries and mayors being career administrators who are in the
city for only three to ve years before moving on (Zacharias & Tang,
2010). Nevertheless, Hangzhous local state and mayor were
powerful actors in relation to West Lake, particularly when civil
society organisations remain weak in China.
The growing autonomy of city government has encouraged
intense competition between Chinas cities to attract capital invest
ment and businesses. Many have ambitious growth strategies and
have engaged in major infrastructural schemes and place marketing.
This city competition echoes the trend in the West in the 1990s to
entrepreneurial city governance (Bramwell & Rawding, 1996),
although in China city government has greater economic and political
power (Zacharias & Tang, 2010). Hangzhou has been active in this city
competition and in regulating economic development, as reected in
the 2001 Hangzhou Urban Development Strategic Plan (Wu & Zhang,
2007). This plan identied the citys competitive advantages to be its
human resources, high quality environment (notably the West Lake
district), and potential for high tech development. Tourism is seen as
a key growth sector for the citys economic growth and competitive
positioning, with West Lake depicted as a major tourism focus. West
Lakes historical and scenic areas are also depicted as highly valuable
for the citys imaging, notably to attract investors (Hangzhou
Municipal Government 2002).
Thus, political economy highlights the inuence of economic
pressures in Hangzhou on the citys overall governance. More
generally, the policies for West Lake can be better understood in the
context of the general preoccupation with economic growth in China
as a whole. According to Harris (1996, p. 319), a quest for economic
improvement currently pervades all aspects of Chinese life. Despite
Chinas traditional philosophies emphasising the harmony of
humans and nature, the countrys long history of shortages means
that material or economic concerns often prevail. Zhu (1999)
suggests that some of Chinas leaders consider that economic
growth is the goal most capable of uniting the nations citizens after
decades of political upheavals and difculties. In the context of
Chinas tourism development, Soeld and Li (1998, p. 386) argue that
Environmental issues are only now being considered: addressing
ecologically sustainable development in a serious and nationally
comprehensive way is still in a distant future. Yet the policies for the


Y. Wang, B. Bramwell / Tourism Management 33 (2012) 988 998

West Lake schemes may still have been affected by rising interest in
China in environmental issues and in heritage protection (Tseng,
5.2. Governance of the Mei Jia Wu Tea scheme
The Mei Jia Wu Tea Area scheme is located in the West Lake
heritage district but in hills about six km. from the lake (Han, 2006;
WLMC, 2004). It is a scheme within the West Lake Protection
Project, a project prompted in part by ambitions for the districts
designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tea has been grown
here since the Dongjin Dynasty (317e420 A.D.) The scheme sought
to celebrate the tea producing traditions in Mei Jia Wu village and
thus to enhance Hangzhous reputation as a traditional tea
producing centre and for the heritage of tea consumption (Shu,
2005; WLMC, 2002). It also promoted this tea producing village
to tourists, with economic benets for villagers and the develop
ment of a new destination for tourists (WLMC, 2004). The scheme
included creating a tea museum, refurbishing village buildings in
a traditional style and upgrading the teahouses where tea is drunk
(both the latter funded by government), increasing tourist car
parking in the village, and creating a new bus route for tourists
from the lake to the village (WLMC, 2002).
As a theoretical perspective, political economy directs attention
to the inuence of power in policy making processes. Thus, this
analysis of the Mei Jia Wu scheme identies actors involved in its
governance, their power within Hangzhous wider policy networks,
and their relative inuence on policy making.
Analysis revealed a relatively restricted and powerful policy
community of inuential actors, comprising of members of West
Lake Management Committee and of Hangzhou Tourism
Committee, the citys Mayor, staff in Hangzhous Legislative Ofce,
and several consultants. The West Lake Management Committee
and Hangzhou Tourism Committee had most power, partly due to
their overall management responsibilities for West Lake district. All
the schemes substantial policies were considered by Hangzhous
Legislative Ofce, with the citys Mayor giving nal approval.
Relevant policies thus were produced and enforced by a small
number of political institutions in the centre of power in Hang
zhous government. Decisions did not need to be considered by
higher government tiers or by Hangzhous or Zhejiangs Commu
nist Party Congresses because authority had been devolved to the
citys government. There were no private sector businesses or
community representatives in this concentrated and powerful
policy community, which very largely comprised state actors.
A group of consultants were the only non government actors
working closely with Hangzhou Tourism Committee and West Lake
Management Committee. They had specialist tourism and heritage
knowledge and were university academics who regularly advised
local government due to its limited tourism expertise. A government
ofcial suggested: The government ofcials lack professional
knowledge about tourism. So they rely a lot on tourism experts
opinions. Although the government makes the nal decision, the
experts suggestions are taken very seriously. According to Zhang
(2002a), municipal government in China often uses consultants
because it provides borrowed expertise, the experts recommen
dations can secure greater political legitimacy, and it exposes
government to less risk on decisions that follow consultants recom
mendations. He depicts their use as potentially a useful strategy used
by the municipal government to maintain control (p. 319) because
government appoints them, they report back to government, and they
often follow government preferences. One consultant described how:
What we have done is follow the instructions of the govern
ment. Usually the Hangzhou Tourism Committee or West Lake

Management Committee will tell us what they want and plan to

do rst. According to their aims, we help set the objectives and
actions. Also, when we nish the plan, we need to show the
results and explain them to [those two organisations]. It is their
decision to say whether the plan will be implemented or not.
At the same time, city government is taking some risk as the
consultants might criticise their activities or proposals, although
the consultants might then lose future contracts (Peet, 2007). These
experts in the Mei Jia Wu scheme were also invited for their
technical expertise rather than wider socio economic or political
recommendations, but it was at least a small step to widening
participation in decision making. Further, in this scheme their
proposals were adopted.
There were also several contributing actors who had fairly
limited and indirect power and inuence in relation to the scheme.
They had much more restricted interactions with policy commu
nity members, through occasional information exchange and
meeting attendance. They included staff of some city government
departments: the Environment Protection Bureau, Construction
Committee, Forestry and Water Conservancy Bureau, Trans
portation Bureau and Security Bureau. They also included members
of the Mei Jia Wu Tea Village Committee and staff of a few private
sector companies providing specialist services, notably a landscape
design company, public bus company and construction company.
Overall, however, there was only modest evidence of private sector
and community involvement in the schemes policy making.
The villagers, teahouse investors and tour operators bringing
tourists to the village, who were much affected by the scheme, had
almost no direct inuence on its governance, so their political power
was very limited. Thus, there was very modest community
engagement. This is perhaps unsurprising because, as noted by
Zhang (2002b, p. 479), in China Civil society is still in its early stage
in terms of public participation and involvement in local affairs.
Further, with no real election power to leverage government of
cials, these community and business groups were not politically well
placed to inuence the development policies. Hangzhous decen
tralised governance also meant that national and regional govern
ment tiers were excluded from direct governance of the scheme.
5.3. Heritage protection and tourism development at Mei Jia Wu
The assessment next explores connections between political
power and policy priorities from a political economy position for
heritage protection and tourism development at Mei Jia Wu. It also
considers whether there was hegemony in views among policy
makers and other actors, whether there were signs of dominant
groups taking on board some views of subordinate groups
(Gramsci, 1971), and whether policy makers displayed strategic
selectivity based on contingent practical experience and lessons
(Bramwell, 2011; Jessop 2008).
Respondents from the two politically powerful policy
community organisations, the West Lake Management Committee
and Hangzhou Tourism Committee, regularly commented in the
interviews on the twin aims of protecting the villages heritage and
environment and of promoting tourism. There was a desire to
conserve the tea traditions and to contribute to the West Lake
Protection Project in order to secure UNESCO World Heritage Site
status. At the same time, the intention was to establish a new
tourist destination to boost Hangzhous tourism and to enhance the
villagers economic returns (WLMC, 2004). A West Lake Manage
ment Committee ofcial commented:
We considered the teahouse businesses as an approach to
promoting and protecting the local tea culture. Meanwhile, the
revenue from the teahouse businesses could benet the local

Y. Wang, B. Bramwell / Tourism Management 33 (2012) 988 998

villagers. . In tourism development, it is important to think

about both economic growth and culture protection. This plan
was based on that aim.
These respondents only occasionally mentioned tensions
between heritage protection and economic goals.
When tensions were discussed by the politically dominant
policy community respondents it was often implied that they
could be overcome through effective planning. In relation to
increasing car parking in the village, Hangzhou Tourism Commit
tees Deputy Head argued that: these public facilities are necessary
in order to develop tourism in Mei Jia Wu. We also considered some
environmental problems that might result from them. Thus, loca
tions of the car parks were all carefully selected. Nevertheless,
some argued that economic benets outweighed negative conse
quences, recognising that trade offs had occurred. Thus, a Hang
zhou Tourism Committee ofcial contended that some sacrices
were inevitable in the process of tourism development, but such
developments would nally bring more advantages.
In practice, while heritage protection was a very signicant aim,
actors in the powerful West Lake Management Committee and
Hangzhou Tourism Committee regularly highlighted how
improvements to village teahouse businesses would boost tourism
receipts and how new car parks would benet tourists. A West Lake
Management Committee ofcial stated that: I think the plan was
successful. Local people have not only had economic benets, but
their living standards have also benetted from the new public
facilities. This respondent also argued that The car parks actually
solve the capacity problem in the village resulting from the process
of tourism development. This, as I can see, brings a lot of benets.
The consultants in the policy community similarly emphas
ised the economic benets, but they also gave some prominence to
social and environmental problems resulting from the scheme.
They were critical of the car parks for adding to congestion and
pollution. One consultant explained how:
I advised the West Lake Management Committee that those car
parks are unsuitable in the village. They would only encourage
more private cars to come, especially during the weekends or
holidays. The pollution for local villagers and the trafc
congestion are key issues.
Another stated that Car parks are vital for tourism development
in the area. However, their locations should have been considered
more carefully. Thus, the consultants could be more critical about
the scheme, but in its planning stages they had endorsed the
governments ofcial proposals.
Several of the less politically inuential contributing actors
also expressed concern about the Mei Jia Wu schemes environ
mental and heritage impacts (Li, 2005). The environmental focus of
some agencies meant they were concerned about environmental
impacts. Representatives from the Environment Protection Bureau
and Transportation Bureau indicated that tourism had damaged the
villages environment and traditional character. An Environment
Protection Bureau ofcial stated that: Tourism development
certainly is important. However, the overwhelming focus on the
development of teahouse businesses has resulted in an excessive
number of tourists. These tourist activities have led to heritage and
local culture being damaged. This ofcial also said: We disagreed
with the plan for car parks in the village. We warned staff in the
head ofce that these car parks would cause too much environ
mental impact. Similarly, the Land Use Management Bureaus
Deputy Director commented: I thought the tourists should use car
parks outside the village, and then walk in. It would be nicer both
for the environment and locals. Thus, some criticisms of the Mei Jia
Wu scheme were voiced by the contributing actors, partly based


on the schemes implementation and results. There are also

suggestions here that both consultants and contributing actors
were taking on board at least some of the views of subordinate
groups, views that are discussed next (Gramsci, 1971).
The ve local villagers differed in their responses, with some
supporting the scheme and others opposing or having mixed
feelings. This was despite all ve being directly or indirectly
involved in tourism, as was the case with most villagers, with three
of them running teahouses, one renting their house for teahouse
use, and one providing tea products to the villages tourist shops.
Thus, the views of the villagers and other actors involved did not
exhibit a very clearly uniform hegemony, with at least some
oppositional views emerging.
On the one hand, some of the ve villagers stressed the schemes
perceived benets, including increased tourist expenditure in
teahouses, refurbished old buildings, and nancial compensation
paid to people relocated to make way for new tourist related
facilities, notably the car parks. A villager said: I feel a little bit
uncomfortable about the changes in the village. The refurbish
ments completely changed the villages look. But I can see the
benets from the project, of course. The teahouse businesses now
bring a lot of customers to us. Another commented how: I
personally am quite satised with the project. Our houses have
been refurbished; they look very nice now. We rent two of our
houses to people from the city for teahouse businesses. We receive
these rents very regularly. Another resident remarked how we
are willing to move and give way to facility construction. Why not?!
The government gives us very good nancial compensation.
Moreover, we can do nothing about the governments decision.
The last comment reected a sense that there was little point
complaining when city government had determined its course of
action. There was evidence of passive acceptance, given the limited
extent to which villagers considered they could voice their views
or were consulted (Shin, 2010).
On the other hand, some of the villagers also expressed concerns
that the scheme had damaging their living environment. One
explained that the quality of our living environment is not just
about how much we can earn, it is also about the natural envi
ronment and the surrounding facilities in the village. Another
I feel that our living environment has been very much changed
or inuenced by the project. The teahouse refurbishments have
totally changed the original look. We miss the old building style
as it told us a lot of stories about our history. We are also
unhappy about the new car parks because of the noise and
pollution. It is also sad that some of our friends had to be relo
cated to further down the road in order to make way for facility
Four of the ve villagers commented that some residents had
been reluctant to move out of their homes, noting that some had
protested when they were relocated. Thus, there were some
dissenting voices about the scheme among villagers (Gramsci,
1971). As many as 17 of 22 respondents in the second interview
phase considered that villagers were likely to continue to complain
about the scheme.
In the interviews the key policy community members gave
prominence to economic development through the Mei Jia Wu
scheme. Yet, they showed what Jessop (2008) calls strategic
selectivity by modifying this economic focus in their policies after
the scheme faced practical difculties, indicating they had learnt
lessons and perhaps had taken some account of critical views.
Contingent difculties seem to have encouraged these actors to
reect and modify their views and policy priorities. Problems
especially arose from the schemes emphasis on village teahouses


Y. Wang, B. Bramwell / Tourism Management 33 (2012) 988 998

being more commercial and attracting more tourists. This led some
local people to rent their teahouses to operators from outside the
village who knew less about traditional tea culture and local dishes.
Also, some teahouses changed their type of business, teahouse staff
stood in the road encouraging people to visit their teahouse, and
some outlets left rubbish by the road (Wang, 2005). According to
Chen (2004), the village had been modernized and commer
cialised, and the changes were ruining the tea culture. An Envi
ronment Protection Bureau ofcial stated that The biggest problem
for the village at the moment is that it is being modernised, while
a villager argued that I dont think this helps in promoting the tea
culture. But surely it is good for the growth of business.
These difculties led the powerful West Lake Management
Committee and Hangzhou Tourism Committee members to revise
their strategic selectivity, and a second plan was developed for
the village based on new recommendations from the consultants.
This new plan began to pay more attention to cultural heritage
protection issues. It included encouragements for local villagers to
operate the teahouses, discouragements to external investors,
provision of training courses for teahouse managers about tradi
tional tea culture, assessments of the operational quality of each
business, and teahouse grading by quality so that tourists could
recognise the best establishments (WLMC, 2004).
The consultants, who were within the policy community but
less powerful than the two main organisations, led work on the
revised policies and they were able to soften the schemes original
focus on economic returns so that it paid more attention to
traditional tea culture. This non government group, therefore,
was able to tilt the schemes priorities more toward heritage
protection, helping the policy community in its seat of power to
adjust its policies and perhaps respond to wider criticisms. It
suggests that the policy community was perhaps beginning to
take on board the views of subordinate groups (Gramsci, 1971).
Thus, the policy makers were responding to threats to traditional
tea culture, to future capital accumulation and economic devel
opment based on that culture, and to the political credibility and
standing of the state. In this way the state organisations appear to
have sought to secure the future economic potential of the heri
tage resources and to maintain their own political legitimacy and
5.4. Governance of the Leifeng Pagoda scheme
The second scheme involved rebuilding West Lakes Leifeng
Pagoda, an ancient cultural symbol and tourist attraction located
near the lake shore and city centre. The original pagoda of 975 had
collapsed in 1924. Its ruins have long attracted tourists as they are
associated with the Lady White Snake legend (Zheng, 2001),
concerning a white snake which took the female form of Lady
White to attract a lover. Their love was forbidden by a Buddhist
monk, however, who caught the snake and kept it captive under the
pagoda (Yan, 2003). Most Chinese people are aware of this legend,
and Leifeng Pagoda has become Hangzhous iconic symbol (Lin,
1999). Again based on political economy, the assessment estab
lishes the actors involved in the schemes governance, their relative
political power, and their inuence on policy making.
The schemes most inuential policy community actors were
the same as for the Mei Jia Wu scheme: members of West Lake
Management Committee and Hangzhou Tourism Committee, the
citys Mayor, Hangzhou Legislative Ofce, and a few heritage and
tourism consultants. Thus, they were limited in number, in the
same politically powerful positions in the citys policy making
circles and, apart from the consultants, all were within government.
The consultants were from a different university to those involved
in Mei Jia Wu, but again they acted as advisors, with nal policy

decisions made by state actors with their accumulated political

power in city government.
As with the Mei Jia Wu scheme, this schemes less powerful
contributing actors mainly comprised of government depart
ments only involved with specic elements of the scheme. They
often only joined in meetings at the schemes nal decision making
stage, and normally they agreed with proposals already developed
by the policy community actors. The contributing actors
included one commercial organisation: the Xizi Hotel, a commer
cial hotel located near the pagoda. This hotel managed land used for
the areas development as a tourist destination, and it also partly
funded the scheme. Hotel representatives attended some meetings
about the scheme led by the policy community, although
a Hangzhou Tourism Committee ofcial noted that they seldom
went to the government meetings and rarely contributed to the
plan. Because they had invested money, they cared more about the
numbers of tourists and tourist receipts after the pagoda had been
rebuilt. This hotel, together with other investors in the scheme,
became involved in the Leifeng Pagoda Tourism Management
Company (Xizi Hotel, 2005), which organises the areas manage
ment as a tourist destination. This commercial sector involvement
in the scheme has features of a corporatist public private sector
pro growth coalition, although the hotel had only recently been
privatised, having previously been a government hotel for impor
tant ofcials and international tourists (F. Qian, 2007, Z. Qian, 2007;
Zhang, 2002b).
Hangzhous residents were asked to comment on the various
pagoda proposals (Wang, 2000; Xin, 2000). This was an unusual
use of public consultation in China, indicating growing awareness
in Hangzhou government circles of the value of being seen to
consider public opinion, and this helps to maintain political legit
imacy. In this case the residents were asked to decide on which
pagoda model they favoured among models of rival proposals
viewed at an exhibition. In practice, however, the policy commu
nity members used their strategic selectivity to choose the
scheme not favoured by most city residents who voted. This re
ected the policy communitys consolidated political power, civil
societys limited direct political inuence, and the policy makers
unwillingness to respond more fully to this challenge to their
preferences. It suggests the political leaders wanted to be seen to
consult about the schemes heritage features, perhaps in order to
consolidate their authority, but they did not consider it politically
essential for their legitimacy that they should respond to public
preferences that did not coincide with their own.
5.5. Heritage protection and tourism development at Leifeng
Based on political economy, the assessment of the Leifeng
Pagoda scheme examines connections between policy makers
power and the policy objectives and priorities for heritage protec
tion and tourism development. It considers whether the policies
reected strategic selectivity by policy makers (Jessop, 2008), and
whether policy makers and other actors held a single hegemonic
view about the policies (Gramsci, 1971).
Important aims for the dominant lead organisations were to
protect and carefully to display the sites historical relics, to
construct a new pagoda above the relicts as a replacement feature
of the historic cultural landscape, to contribute to West Lakes
World Heritage Site designation bid, and to educate people about
the site (WLMC, 2005). In the interviews the policy community
actors often discussed three aims, which were regularly depicted as
mutually benecial: heritage protection, tourism development, and
tourism as an economic catalyst for the city. A West Lake
Management Committee ofcial argued that The tourism devel
opment benets our heritage protection work because it brings

Y. Wang, B. Bramwell / Tourism Management 33 (2012) 988 998

a lot of income, which is necessary for protecting the relics, other

work, and educating people about the site. Similarly, one of the
schemes consultants contended that the economic prots from
the tourism development can further enhance the heritage
protection work. Hangzhous Tourism Committee Deputy Director
stressed that preservation of the sites relics meant it was possible
to share our cultural heritage with the tourists, and to raise their
awareness about the need to protect them.
The inuential policy community actors also regularly
focused on the site as a tourist attraction, with many discussing
the importance of planning for large tourist numbers. The Mayor
asserted that Leifeng Pagoda should be rebuilt as the icon of
Hangzhous traditional culture, and tourism denitely shows
the way (Xin, 2000). The sites ofcial plan also focused much
attention on developing the site as a major tourist attraction
(Chen, 2001; Lin, 1999; WLMC, 2000; Zheng, 2001). This involved
developing the pagoda surroundings as a landscaped tourist
scenic district, and restoring the beauty of the sunset at Lei
feng Pagoda, which is promoted to tourists as one of West Lakes
ten most attractive views (WLMC, 2005). The sites proximity to
the city centre also means its development adds to the city
centres critical mass of attractions and property values
(Hangzhou Municipal Government, 2002). Because the pagoda is
so widely recognised across China, the site also has much
signicance for the imaging and promotion of Hangzhou as a city.
As Hangzhou Tourism Committees Deputy Chairman explained:
the Leifeng Pagoda project is of interest to all people in Hang
zhou, and it is even inuential for the whole nation. This is
because the legend of Leifeng Pagoda has become a key symbol of
Hangzhou city.
Within this focus on tourism development, the policy com
munitys strategic selectivity favoured a replacement pagoda
with a layout allowing easy access around the site by substantial
tourist numbers, resulting in a preference for construction with
obviously modern infrastructure and materials. This led to the use
of external and internal lifts, external moving escalators, and
concrete and bronze in the new pagodas construction. The Hang
zhou Tourism Committees Deputy Head explained that:
We cannot just consider the look of the pagoda; we also need to
think about the functional aspects. The pagoda is going to
receive a lot of tourists after the rebuilding. We need to make
sure it wont crash down and that it can last for a long time even
under extreme weather conditions.
One of the schemes consultants admitted that:
Some people do not like the current pagoda because they think
it is too modern. But we are more concerned about how long the
pagoda will survive, how to protect the cultural heritage prod
ucts inside the pagoda, and also how to establish the tourist
attraction here. For example, the lifts in the pagoda will easily
bring tourists to the top of the pagoda for the beautiful scenery.
Another policy community ofcial noted that: The current
pagoda uses much.bronze, which can help the pagoda to resist
deterioration for a very long period, and it can bear the weight of
large numbers of tourists at the same time (Xin, 2000).
The strategic selectivity favouring large tourist numbers also
led to the site plan including a substantial area around the pagoda for
tourist use. A Hangzhou Tourism Committee respondent explained:
We also need to think about the future of the pagoda. After its
rebuilding, the pagoda would receive a lot of tourists. Thats why
we also needed to include in the plan the area surrounding the
pagoda and to make the whole area an attractive tourist


One consultant argued that: it was essential to consider the

functions in the surrounding tourist scenic district, and the long
term benets of this have been proved for tourists. He also
argued that the modern look could be more embedded into the
current Hangzhou city, suggesting that a modern aesthetic was
more appropriate for Hangzhous image as a city. Similarly, the
Deputy Chairman of Hangzhous Tourism Committee asserted that
the design was suitable for Hangzhous modern and fashionable
city image.
There were expressions of unease, however, with the relative
priorities between heritage protection and tourism at the pagoda,
indicating there were challenges to the hegemonic policy aims
conceived at the political centre (Gramsci, 1971; Peet, 2007). A local
academic complained that The protection of cultural relics in
Leifeng Pagoda is actually destroyed by the tourism development
(Morning Express, 2005, p. 6). A newspaper commentator argued
that the modern infrastructure totally destroyed the pagodas
culture, and made the Leifeng Pagodas identity vague (Chen, 2001,
p.3). There were counter hegemonic comments on blog websites,
with one tourist describing how The pagoda with the modern lifts
was a real shock to us. We were looking for the remains of those
legends, but we could only see a modern, articial big toy (Shuzai,
2005). When local residents were asked to vote on their preferred
model of the pagodas design, most chose a traditional design,
unlike the one actually built. Criticisms of the nal design were
quite frequent in the interviews with ten Hangzhou residents. One
commented that The design is too modern and over done, and
another noted that
Most of our friends voted for a model in a traditional design. I
dont like this new pagoda at all. It does not t those romantic
legends about Leifeng Pagoda. It totally breaks the links between
the pagoda and the meaning of the Leifeng Pagoda.
On several occasions, however, the policy community did
review its own decisions about the Leifeng Pagoda scheme. But,
ultimately, this powerful groupings own strategic selectivity
prevailed, favouring a more modern replacement pagoda and
a scheme arguably strongly focused on tourism related economic
development, thus ignoring the views of others who were less
politically powerful and who favoured a more traditional design
(Zhang, Xu, Su, & Ryan, 2009).
6. Conclusions
Interventions by the state can be important for the relative
priorities given to heritage protection and tourism related
economic development at heritage sites. The study examined how
governance affected these priorities for Mei Jia Wu and Leifeng
Pagoda schemes in Hangzhous West Lake Protection Project. A
political economy approach was used, where the economic and
political spheres are viewed as inter connected. This approach
involved examining the schemes in relation to the power and
inuence of different actors in the schemes governance, the states
power and its roles in the economy and in responding to public
views and maintaining its legitimacy, and the extent of any hege
mony in values and attitudes among powerful and less inuential
groups. The study is important as there is a need for more research
on how governance affects heritage tourism relations, particularly
from a political economy perspective. It is also necessary to under
stand these connections in China as this country has a distinctive
and evolving socio economic and political system, and as it already
attracts huge volumes of domestic and international tourists.
The relative priorities for heritage protection and tourism
development at West Lake were considered in the context of wide
economic and political trends. In particular, the growing autonomy


Y. Wang, B. Bramwell / Tourism Management 33 (2012) 988 998

of city government in China has encouraged intense competition

between cities to attract inward business investment and to
promote capital accumulation, which is seen in neoliberal city
growth strategies and city marketing. Hangzhous city plan reects
this trend, and it depicts West Lake as a strong attraction for
investors in the city, and the tourism industry associated with West
Lake is presented as a signicant growth sector. Thus, there are
ambitions for territorial competitiveness and economic growth
behind how Hangzhous city government viewed West Lake, and
this may help to explain the prominence of tourism development
and economic returns in the two schemes.
Heritage tourism relations in the two schemes were also
signicantly affected by the character and objectives of the
schemes policy makers. It was shown how key decisions on policy
priorities were made by a fairly restricted and powerful policy
community of city government actors, comprising of members of
West Lake Management Committee and Hangzhou Tourism
Committee, the citys mayor, and staff of Hangzhous legislative
ofce, and they were advised by consultants. The decentralisation
of governance from Beijing meant that national and regional
government was excluded from direct involvement in the schemes.
The contributing actors for the schemes had far less inuence on
policy making, and there were only modest beginnings of other
wider participation in decision making. Probably the most inu
ential actors outside of government were the university academics
who were paid consultants for both schemes, although there were
limits to their activities and inuence. A private sector hotel was
also involved in Leifeng Pagodas policy making, but its participa
tion was modest. Further, there was a public consultation process
for Leifeng Pagoda where residents were asked to select their fav
oured proposal for the scheme, but the policy community nally
chose a scheme not favoured by the public. Taken overall, therefore,
the policy priorities in the schemes were largely directed by state
actors with much accumulated power in city government.
The powerful policy community actors in city government
clearly were concerned about heritage protection, but they were
also strongly focused on promoting tourism related economic
development. They often saw mutual benets between heritage
and tourism, such as through heritage resources enhancing the
citys image and tourism growth, and in turn these economic gains
could justify costly heritage protection work. It was argued,
however, that these actors put a degree of emphasis on tourism at
the expense of heritage protection, despite the schemes being
within the West Lake Protection Project and partly intended to
enhance West Lakes potential to secure World Heritage Site
designation. This emphasis on tourism growth and associated
economic development was seen in the focus on teahouse business
development and additional car parking in Mei Jia Wu village, and
in the layout and modern materials and infrastructure at Leifeng
Pagoda. The policy elite appear to have stressed reshaping heritage
for enhanced economic returns and for political ends.
Yet the views of the many actors with interests in the two
schemes did not exhibit a very clearly uniform hegemony in
relation to the priorities for heritage protection and tourism related
economic development, with at least some oppositional opinions
emerging. In the case of the Mei Jia Wu scheme the policy
community members do appear to have responded to practical
problems arising from the emphasis on expanding tea businesses,
and it is possible they were beginning to take on board dissenting
voices among subordinate groups. The policy makers here appear
to have adjusted their priorities between heritage protection and
tourism development in response to the threats to traditional tea
culture, to future capital accumulation and economic development
based on that culture to the views of other actors, and to their own
political legitimacy and authority. With the Leifeng Pagoda scheme

the powerful policy community members also saw the value of

being seen to consider public opinion about the heritage features of
the scheme, perhaps in order to enhance their political legitimacy.
Nevertheless, they did not consider it politically essential for that
legitimacy that they should respond to the public preferences when
it was found that they did not coincide with their own political and
economic project, with many members of the public favouring
a more traditional pagoda design. Instead, the key policy makers
displayed strategic selectivity by ignoring the dissenting voices
and opting for a design much inuenced by tourism needs and
preferences for a modern city image.
The study examined only two schemes in one heritage tourism
project in one city, but it may point to a wider convergence in urban
China between governance through highly powerful local policy
communities and capitalism. Local government in Hangzhou had
a strongly entrepreneurial and growth oriented policy agenda. If
this policy convergence applies in other cities in China, then it
entails potential dangers that heritage protection could be
neglected in the context of the growing focus on tourism devel
opment and promotion.
A political economy approach was used to understand the
governance of heritage protection and tourism development
priorities at Hangzhous West Lake. This approach is relational and
dialectical, and it encouraged assessment of the West Lake projects
governance in the context of societys wider reciprocal relations
between heritage, tourism, the state, economy, society and societal
values. The local states activities affecting heritage and tourism
thus were considered in relation to the broad operation of
economic and political systems. The connections between the
projects governance and some of societys wider relations were not
always immediately apparent, but using this approach it emerged
that some were very signicant. The studys political economy
perspective rejects ideas that policy interventions result from
a deterministic logic. Thus, while economic and power relations
were considered potentially important, attention was also directed
to the agency of actors in their beliefs and responses to specic
circumstances at particular conjunctures. Individual actors and
their strategic selectivity in specic conjunctures were shown to
be highly relevant. More research might usefully examine the
governance of heritage and tourism by considering micro scale
agency, macro scale structures and the dialectical relations
between them. Differing and competing discourses and represen
tations are also important (Bramwell, 2006). Thus, future studies in
this eld could also explore in more depth than was possible here
how subjective meanings and discursive practices are implicated in
these relationships.

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