Reviewing the forces underpinning Chinese urbanization, this paper is divided into two main parts. The first addresses the (non-spatial) causal mechanisms between 1949 and 1977. Neither the ideological, the class, nor the economic formulation has touched on the more systemic mechanisms related to the socialist state and the shortage economy. This paper attempts to redress the imbalance by examining the advantages of combining Kornai's shortage model with Foucault's concept of governmentality. By drawing on concepts of spatial contingency, spatial boundary and locality effects, the second part of the paper argues that spatial relations do play significant roles in revealing Chinese urbanisation policies and patterns. In the postscript, the forces underpinning urbanisation since 1978 have also been examined within the context the framework outlined. It is hoped that this paper will induce more serious theoretical discussion of Chinese urbanisation.