Multi-Planning Integration: Construction and Progress of China's National Territory Spatial Planning System


  • Linlin Dai Peking University
  • Changwei Feng Peking University
  • Jian Lin Peking University
  • YUN LIU Tianjin University


National territory spatial planning (NTSP), Spatial planning, Land use, Space governance, China




Spatial planning is the effective control and scientific management of the national territory within the jurisdiction of a country or region government, which is crucial for achieving a balance between development and protection. This study reviews the origins and progress of China's national territory spatial planning (NTSP) reform that began in 2019, summarizes the challenges and problems, and proposes the focus of the next step of NTSP reform, in order to provide reference for achieving sustainable development of China's NTSP.

The important measure of China's NTSP reform is multi-planning integration. In 2019, China integrated the major function-oriented zone planning, land use planning, urban-rural planning, and other spatial planning that were previously managed by different departments into a unified NTSP, which was managed by a unified department, namely the Ministry of Natural Resources. The entire NTSP system is divided into five levels and three categories. The five levels correspond to China's administrative management system and are divided into five levels, namely national, provincial, municipal, county and township level. The three categories refer to the planning types being divided into overall planning, detailed planning, and relevant special planning.

This unified NTSP aims to make overall arrangements for the development and protection of national spatial space in the whole area, all elements, and the whole process, including “mountains, waters, forests, fields, lakes, grasses, sands, and ice”, both on land and in the ocean, urban and rural areas, and above and underground. Its starting point is to respond to the requirements of ecological civilization construction, change the previous emphasis on development and neglect of resource protection, and guide the sustainable development of national spatial resources. At the same time, the government has clarified the legal status of spatial planning reform from a legislative perspective, revised the Land Management Law, and established principles for the preparation requirements and legal effectiveness of NTSP. This is the largest planning reform in China in recent decades, which has made innovations in planning concepts, technical methods, and management systems.

The reform of China's NTSP has been ongoing since 2019, and the planning process is nearing completion. The overall plans of 31 provincial-level NTSP in mainland China have all been submitted to the State Council, of which 14 have been approved. More than 90% of the 350 municipal-level and 2220 county-level overall plans formulated nationwide have been submitted to the approval authorities, and more than half have completed the review process. In this process, NTSP has implemented measures such as delineating three control lines: ecological protection red lines, farmland protection red lines, and urban development boundaries. Establishing insurmountable red lines for various regions in adjusting economic structure, planning industrial development, and promoting urbanization, forming a statutory blueprint for national spatial development and protection. At the same time, the government has also conducted systematic explorations in planning approval, implementation supervision, technical standards, regulations and policies, etc.

Although significant progress has been made in China's NTSP, there is still a certain gap between the concept and reality in practice, and many problems have arisen, which to some extent affects the effectiveness of the territorial spatial planning system.

Author Biographies

  • Linlin Dai, Peking University

    PhD, Associate Professor at the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, with a research focus on national territory spatial planning and sustainable urban-rural development.

  • Changwei Feng, Peking University

    Master's student in the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences

  • Jian Lin, Peking University

    PhD, Director and Professor of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University. Doctoral supervisor, with research interests in land use, national territory spatial planning and development protection, and national spatial governance.

  • YUN LIU, Tianjin University

    PhD of Tianjin University


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