Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2013, Vol. 68 ›› Issue (4): 517-531.doi: 10.11821/xb201304007

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China’s economic development stage and its patio-temporal evolution:A prefectural-level analysis

QI Yuanjing1,2, YANG Yu1,2, JIN Fengjun1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China
  • Received:2012-05-28 Revised:2013-02-23 Online:2013-04-20 Published:2013-04-20
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41171107, No.41001071

Abstract: As important carriers of regional strategy and policy, prefecture-level regions have played an increasingly significant role in the development of China's economy. However, few studies have grasped the essence of economic development stage and spatio-temporal evolution process at a prefectural level. Thus they may lead to a biased policy and ineffective implementation. Based on Chenery's economic development theory, this paper identifies China's economic development stages at both national and prefectural levels. Both Global Moran's I index and Getis-Ord Gi* index are employed to investigate the spatial-temporal evolution of China's economic development from 1990 to 2010. Major conclusions can be drawn as follows: (1) China's economic development is generally in the state of agglomeration. It stepped into primary production stage in 1990, and middle industrialized stage in 2010, with a "balanced-unbalanced-gradually rebalanced" pattern in the process. (2) China's rapid economic growth experienced a spatial shift from coastal regions to inland regions. Most advanced cities in central and western China can be roughly categorized into regional hub cities and resource-dependent cities. (3) Hot-spots in China's economic development moved northward and westward. The interactions between cities and prefectures became weaker in eastern China, while cities and prefectures in central and western China were still on the stage of monomer development, with limited effects on the surrounding cities. (4) While the overall growth rate of China's economy gradually slowed down during the past two decades, the numbers of cities and prefectures in central and western China grew much faster than those in coastal areas. (5) Regions rich in resources, such as Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, became the new hot-spots of economic growth in recent years. For these regions, however, more attention should be paid to its unbalanced industrial structure and the lagging social development in the backdrop of the rapid economic growth driven predominantly by the exploitation of resources.

Key words: economic development stage, spatial pattern, spatio-temporal evolution, regions at the prefectural level