Recent Developments in Western Economic Geographies and Theoretical Thinking for China's Counterpart

  • 1. Research Center for Yellow River Civilization and Sustainable Development, Henan University, Kaifeng 475001, China;
    2. College of Environment and Planning, Henan University, Kaifeng 475001, China;
    3. Henan University of Finance & Economics, Zhengzhou 450002, China

Received date: 2003-12-12

  Revised date: 2004-08-01

  Online published: 2004-12-25

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40271038; No.40071029


Under the logic of the institutional, cultural, relational, and scalar turns, geographers' contribution to recent developments of Western economic geographies was reviewed. This is balanced by an equal examination on "new economic geography" defined by the mainstream economists in Western countries. The paper holds a view that the two schools, multiple turns and economist's new economic geography, should gain mutual benefits from close dialogues and idea exchanges. In a developing country such as China, the development of economic geography should differ from Western world, due to its different economic development path as well as different background for the academic discipline of economic geography. This does not prevent China's geographers from learning from their counterparts in Western countries. Obviously, it is suggested that China's geographers should enhance identifying and focusing on theoretical problems in research, introducing theories from the relevant disciplines, utilizing mathematics and modeling techniques, and studying in micro scales and micro perspectives. More importantly, the special even unique characteristics in background of Chinese economic geography provide geographers with valuable opportunities. (1) As a fast growth country with great regional disparity, China is confronting a challenge in the balance between economic development and problems in resource exploitation and environment degradation. (2) Geography in China has been strongly biased to natural sciences and economic geographers have been trained with rich knowledge in physical geography, geology, environment science, and biology. (3) The traditional culture particularly Confucius philosophy that emphasizes harmony in personal relation of society and in human-land relation, continuously influences geographers' thinking in research. Under this background, geographers may find many interesting topics that have potentials in producing internationally recognized outcomes. Among them, four appear particularly significant: (1) theoretical construction in spatial structure of economic development, including the issues on uneven regional development, and evolution of fast growth poles or areas; (2) relationship between regional culture and economic development, particularly local cluster and culture under fast rural industrialization in some provinces; (3) relationship between urbanization and industrialization, such as the lag of urbanization as compared with international general situation; and (4) balance of economic development with population growth, resource utilization and environmental protection.

Cite this article

LI Xiaojian, MIAO Changhong . Recent Developments in Western Economic Geographies and Theoretical Thinking for China's Counterpart[J]. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2004 , 59(7s) : 153 -161 . DOI: 10.11821/xb20047s021


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