Cities across the developing world have experienced great challenges in making sufficient capital investment in urban infrastructure (CIUI) during periods of rapid urbanization, yet this phenomenon has captured little academic attention. Focusing on Chinese cities, this study analyzed the investment patterns at the temporal, sectoral, and spatial scales and investigated the drivers through the lens of the political market framework. China’s national CIUI, relying mainly on local revenue sources, increased steadily from 2000 to 2014. The patterns of CIUI across cities indicated polarized investment attributable to the influence of public demand and governmental supply mediated by intergovernmental political institutions. These findings advance our understanding of urban infrastructure investment in the course of rapid urbanization.