Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 74 ›› Issue (12): 2437-2454.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201912002

• Regional Development Pattern and Space Governance • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The evolution process and regulation of China's regional development pattern

FAN Jie1,2, WANG Yafei1,2, LIANG Bo1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-11-20 Revised:2019-12-03 Online:2019-12-25 Published:2019-12-25
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41630644)


China's per capita GDP has reached 64520 yuan (about 10,000 US dollars). The development process of countries around the world and the inverted U-shaped curve of regional development gaps indicate that the evolution of China's regional development pattern will step into an inflection point segment and that the development gap between regions has witnessed a switch from continuing widening to narrowing. In this paper, we discuss the evolution process of China's regional development pattern over the 40 years since 1978 before the inflection point: (1) The gap in per capita GDP between the upstream areas (the top 9 most developed provinces) and the downstream (the last 8 underdeveloped provinces) increased from 407 yuan in 1978 to 53817 yuan in 2018. (2) Under the pull of export-oriented economy and non-state-owned economy, the mean center of urbanization and economic development rotates in a clockwise direction. Southeast China has become an area with accelerated economic agglomeration. (3) China's regional development pattern has presented a diamond structure with the four core regions of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and Chengdu-Chongqing as the apex and the connection of adjacent regions as the boundary. The GDP in these regions accounts for about 75% of the national total. In 2020, China's regional development pattern will enter an inflection point of evolution. The form is characterized by the narrowing of the regional economic gap, which is essentially a transition from non-high-quality regional development to high-quality regional development. The high-quality development of the region is a process of growth in which the ecological and social benefits will be basically synchronized in the process of sustained economic growth, and a regional high-quality development model that is differentiated by geographical functions is presented. In the next 30 years, the regulation and optimization of China's regional development pattern should focus on three types of regions: key urbanization regions, relatively underdeveloped regions, and key areas for security, as well as inter-regional interactions according to the dual objectives of promoting regional balanced (coordinated) development and high-quality development. Establishing a space governance system with the major function zoning-strategy-planning-system as the mainstay will become the basic guarantee for regulating and optimizing the regional development pattern.

Key words: regional coordinated development, major function zone, pattern evolution, spatial equilibrium, spatial governance, regulation, inflection point, China