Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 69 ›› Issue (8): 1130-1144.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201408009

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Progress and the future direction of research into urban agglomeration in China

Chuanglin FANG   

  1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2014-03-21 Revised:2014-07-10 Online:2014-08-20 Published:2014-11-18


Urban agglomeration has been the inevitable result of China's rapid industrialization and urbanization over the last 30 years. Since the early 2000s, urban agglomeration has become the new regional unit participating in international competition and the division of labor. China has declared urban agglomeration the main spatial component of new types of urbanization over the next decade as clarified at the first Central Urbanization Working Conference and in the National New-type Urbanization Plan (2014?2020). However, research on urban agglomeration remains weak and needs to be strengthened. From 1934 to 2013, only 19 papers published in Acta Geographica Sinica contained the theme of urban agglomeration (0.55% of the total number of articles published) and the first paper on urban agglomeration appeared less than 10 years ago. Despite a small number of divergent studies, this work has contributed to and guided the formation of the overall pattern of urban agglomeration in China. For example, spatial analyses have promoted the formation of the fundamental framework of China's urban agglomeration spatial structure and guided the National New-type Urbanization Plan; spatial identification standards and technical processes have played an important role in identifying the scope and extent of urban agglomeration; serial studies have facilitated pragmatic research; and problems with the formation and development of urban agglomeration have provided a warning for future choices and Chinese development. Future research into urban agglomeration in China should (1) review and examine new problems in China's urban agglomeration options and cultivation; (2) critically consider urban agglomeration when promoting the formation of the 5+9+6 spatial pattern; (3) rely on urban agglomeration to construct new urbanization patterns such as 'stringing the agglomerations with the axis, supporting the axis with the agglomerations'; and (4) deepen national awareness about resources, environment effects and environmental carrying capacity in high density urban agglomerations, management and government coordination innovation, the construction of public finance and fiscal reserve mechanisms, the technical regulation of urban agglomeration planning, and standards for identifying the scope and extent of urban agglomeration.

Key words: urban agglomeration, research progress, problems, spatial pattern, development direction, China