Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (12): 1463-1480.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1447-8

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial difference and mechanisms of influence of geo-economy in the border areas of China

Tao SONG1,2,3(), Yi CHENG1,2,4,*(), Weidong LIU1,2, Hui LIU1,2,4   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. Collaborative Innovation Center for Geopolitical Setting of Southwest China and Borderland Development, Kunming 650500, China
    4. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2017-03-12 Accepted:2017-05-10 Online:2017-12-10 Published:2017-12-10
  • Contact: Yi CHENG;
  • About author:

    Author: Song Tao (1983-), PhD, specialized in geopolitics and regional sustainable development. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41701131, No.41530634;Key Consulting Project of the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology Strategic Consulting, No.Y02015001;Funding of Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, No.Y55R1203YZ


Border areas are both important territorial security barriers and portals to the outside world. Considering the complicated geopolitical environment of China’s inland borders, analysis of the current status and mechanisms of influence of geo-economy in border areas is of great significance. Namely, this analysis is important towards leveraging traditional advantages to accelerate China’s development in border and minority areas. Based on a comprehensive analysis, our study constructed a framework to analyze the geo-economy in border areas, and also introduced three indexes: local economy, export-oriented economy and local development. In addition, our study systematically described geo-economic evolution in the border areas of China. We also analyzed the mechanism of geo-economic spatial differentiation in these border areas by using geographical detectors. Our results indicated that the level of geo-economic influence in border areas has grown steadily with significant spatial differentiation. The absolute geo-economic dominance of Northeast China gradually declines over time. Areas with geo-economic advantages are highly dispersed, showing a spatial polarization pattern with several polar nuclei including Mudanjiang city (Northeast China), Baotou city (Inner Mongolia), Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture (Xinjiang), Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture and the city of Chongzuo (Yunnan-Guangxi area). Geo-economics in border area is mainly influenced by national policies, the development level of neighboring countries, as well as the desire of these countries to cooperate with China in bilateral trade. Favorable policies, traffic, cultural proximity and other factors also impact the geo-economics of border areas significantly. The Inner Mongolia and Tibet areas are mainly influenced by neighboring countries, while Northeast China and Xinjiang are mainly affected by Chinese policies; the Yunnan-Guangxi area is influenced by a combination of these factors. At the end of the study, we provide our recommendations for developing policies that further geo-economic advantages in complex geopolitical environments and in areas with varied development.

Key words: border area, geo-economy, geopolitics, geography detector