Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 76 ›› Issue (2): 428-443.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202102013

• Industrial and Regional Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Development characteristics and construction prospects for an integrated economic zone in the South China Sea Region

JIN Fengjun1,2(), YAO Zuolin1,2,3, CHEN Zhuo1   

  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
    3. Faculty of Geographical science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2019-08-26 Revised:2020-10-01 Online:2021-02-25 Published:2021-04-25
  • Supported by:
    Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA19040403);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41771134)


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China is sharply catalyzing the evolution of the global economic landscape. In order to cope with these great changes, China needs to take South China Sea Region (SCSR) as its strategic pivot and explore the construction possibility of a strategic integrated economic zone combining China and ASEAN. Based on key indicators, this paper outlines the overall development characteristics of SCSR, analyses the structural characteristics of industry and trade based on the indexes of industrial structure similarity and trade structure coincidence, depicts the spatial network characteristics of the core growth area around SCSR, and discusses the construction prospect of multiple integrated economic zone in SCSR. The results show that: (1) From 2000 to 2017, the main economic indicators of SCSR grew pretty well, the development speed and quality were much higher than the global average level in the same period. (2) Driven by the global industrial transfer stages and spatial paths, SCSR has evolved into four levels, the first level includes Macao, Singapore, and Hong Kong, the second level includes Guangdong, Fujian, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia, the third level includes Yunnan, Guangxi, Hainan, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam, the fourth level includes Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. (3) The indexes of industrial structure similarity and trade structure coincidence of 11 countries in SCSR keep at a high level, which do not only show the integration trend from the horizontal and vertical dimensions, but also from the upgrading and downgrading states. (4) SCSR has formed nine core growth regions, and the advantage industries and export commodity types between different regions are characterized by convergence and complementarity due to the polarization and diffusion effect of the growth poles. (5) From a long-term perspective, SCSR has had the external and internal conditions for building a multiple integrated economic zone. The 5th round of global industrial transfer and the reconstruction of the global value chain will build a production-consumption network which can match the characteristics of regional resource endowments, while the spatial network will be built by spatial entities such as urban agglomeration and high-speed transportation, and the cooperation policy platform from internal and external conditions will better guarantee the construction of the multiple integrated economic zone as well.

Key words: South China Sea Region (SCSR), economic zone, ASEAN, regional integration, globalization and localization