Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2013, Vol. 68 ›› Issue (4): 435-448.doi: 10.11821/xb201304001

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Evolving spatial distribution of manufacturing industries in China

MAO Qiliang1,2, DONG Suocheng1, WANG Fei1,2, LI Jun1,2   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2012-06-21 Revised:2013-01-16 Online:2013-04-20 Published:2013-04-20
  • Supported by:

    National Science Fundamental Foundation of China, No.2007FY110300

Abstract: In the context of uneven development, industrial structure differentials exist in core and peripheral regions. This paper, concerning uneven development since reform and opening-up in China, firstly presents descriptive evidence of the core-periphery pattern of economic spatial structure. Then it empirically analyzes the impact of core-periphery gradient across provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) on industrial location and assesses the extent to which these provinces have changed in recent years by taking manufacturing industries as cases and employing statistical data of the 2nd and 3rd China Industrial Censuses and the 1st and 2nd China Economic Censuses. Since China's reform and opening-up, economic spatial structure of China has been presenting a significant core-periphery pattern, and the economic center evidently skews to east coastal areas. With the deepening of market reform and expansion of globalization, industrial location is gradually in line with development advantages across provinces, and shows preferences between core and peripheral provinces with respect to different industries. The core provinces specialize in those industries characterized by strong forward and backward linkages as well as high consumption ratio, high degree of increasing returns to scale, labor intensive or human-capital intensive, however, it is the other way around to peripheral provinces, in addition, energy intensive industries gradually concentrate in peripheral ones. Comparative advantage theory and new economic geography to a certain degree identify the underlying forces that determine spatial distribution of manufacturing industries in China. This paper indicates that it will be a long-term trend that industrialization of regions in different gradients is not synchronized. In a certain period, provinces are bound to develop industrial sectors in line with regional characteristics and development stage. Core-periphery gradients by industry across provinces demonstrated in this paper indicates that industrial development differentials between eastern and western provinces are not only the uneven distribution of industries but also the inconsistent evolving trends of industrial structure for each province.

Key words: core-periphery pattern, spatial distribution, manufacturing industries, region characteristic, industrial characteristic