Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (3): 348-364.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1381-9

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Implementation methods and economic impacts of national node strategies

Yuanjing QI1,2(), Tao LIU3, Jingjuan JIAO4   

  1. 1. School of Soil and Water Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
    2. Engineering Technology Research Center of Forestry Ecological Engineering, Ministry of Education (Beijing Forestry University), Beijing 100083, China
    3. Center for Population and Development Studies, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
    4. Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, China;
  • Received:2016-09-28 Accepted:2016-11-02 Online:2017-03-30 Published:2017-03-30
  • About author:

    Author: Liu Chunla, PhD, specialized in economic geography and regional development. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Chen Mingxing, PhD and Associate Professor, E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41401121;The New Teachers’ Scientific Research Program funded by Beijing Forestry University, No.BLX2013028


Pilot reforms gradually implemented through key nodes have become an important pattern of regional development in China since the policy of reform and opening up was introduced in 1978. On the basis of an analysis of the evolution processes and characteristics of regional development policies in post-reform China, this paper develops the concept and analytical framework of national node strategies (NNS), defined as regional development strategies centered on specific spatial nodes, by addressing their theoretical basis and research scope. The regional economic impacts of NNS were explored quantitatively through the examples of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, Pudong New Area and Tianjin Binhai New Area in different stages of the reform and opening up. The results indicate that the evolution of China’s regional development policies can be divided into three stages: the exploration stage led by Special Economic Zones (SEZs), the expansion stage dominated by Economic Development Zones and the optimization stage featuring State-level New Areas and National Comprehensive Reform Pilot Areas. During all the three stages, NNS have played an important demonstrative and leading role and promoted the rapid evolution of China’s regional development policies from localized to widespread implementation, and the role of the government has also changed accordingly. As an innovative application and development of the growth pole theory in transitional China, NNS have become engines of regional development as well as important conduits of institutional innovations. NNS and regional development have achieved a benign coupling and formed a gradated regional development model. Empirical research indicates that NNS are an important method used by the government to guide and regulate regional economic development, with complex and diverse economic effects that differ depending on the stage of regional development and the spatial scale of analysis.

Key words: regional development strategy, national node strategies, growth pole, economic impact