This article provides an empirically based novel research framework addressing ‘the land/built environment–finance and economic development nexus’ of China’s urban growth model. First, urban growth must be viewed beyond manufacturing and production activities to incorporate consumption activities. Mega-projects and infrastructure development have gradually become dependent on the incomes and spending of increasingly mobile consumers and residents. Second, the article highlights the ‘Chinese type’ of financialization of the built environment. As financial assets, urban land and real estate have been connected to newly emerging finance capital actors and circuits nationwide, as well as to direct cross-regional property investments made by urban households.