Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 77 ›› Issue (8): 1907-1919.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202208005

• Economic Geography and Regional Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Special thinking and green development path of urbanization in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

FANG Chuanglin1,2()   

  1. 1. 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:2022-05-30 Revised:2022-07-20 Online:2022-08-25 Published:2022-10-12
  • Supported by:
    The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program(2019QZKK1005);Innovation Research Group Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China(42121001)


Urbanization in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is a special mission in defending the national security, the national ecological security and the Asian Water Tower. It plays an irreplaceable role in the world, which ensures the realization of modernization, the happiness of all ethnic groups, a stronger ecological security and a more solid national security barrier in this region. This study discusses in detail the special driving force, development path, development goals, development pattern, green development mode and green development path of new urbanization in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which are completely different from the inland areas. It is believed that the urbanization of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is a process characterized by low-level development, cultural inheritance, national defence, water tower protection, small agglomeration and large dispersion, social inclusion, and ecological enrichment. It is driven by a single investment, tourists, services, and counterpart support in an alpine and anoxic environment. In the future, the urbanization development thinking in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is, firstly, to take the defence of the territory and the border as the guideline to ensure national security, and a sufficient population in the border and rural areas at a fast, stable and appropriate growth rate. By 2035, the permanent population of the plateau will reach 16 million, and the urbanization rate should be 52.5%, which will be stable in the middle stage of urbanization for a long time, and the quality of urbanization will be promoted comprehensively. Secondly, driven by green development, the ability and level of ecological products and ecological services will be continuously improved, highlighting characteristics and folk customs, and promoting cultural diversity and inclusiveness. And we encourage local herdsmen to live in the town and graze in the township so that they can build beautiful cities and towns and advance in-situ urbanization on the plateau. Thirdly, based on the principle of small agglomeration and large dispersion, the pattern of borderland security urbanization is composed of "three circles, four belts and multi-nodes", emphasizing the agglomeration effect of the three circles (Xining metropolitan area, Lhasa metropolitan area, and Qaidam urban circle), four belts (urban belt along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, urban belt along the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, town belt along the Tangbo Ancient Road, and border town zone), and multi-nodes (multiple important urban nodes, and important border towns). Fourthly, we should guarantee the channel development, including the construction of new infrastructure facilities such as the Qinghai-Tibet high-speed railway, and the building of plateau smart cities, so as to safeguard national security. Finally, taking territorial security as a top priority, we should speed up the reform of the land system in border cities, set up pilot special zones for borderland land reform, and focus on border cities in major national strategic layout and territorial spatial planning.

Key words: urbanization process, special mission, special driving process and thinking, green development path, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau