Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2018, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (12): 1757-1780.doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1564-z

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The differentiation and evolutionary models of industrial bases in China

Fengjun JIN1,2(), Linlin CHEN1,2,3,*(), Yu YANG1,2,*(), Hui HONG4   

  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
    3. The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China, Tongzhou Campus, Beijing 101117, China
    4. China International Engineering Consulting Corporation, Beijing 100048, China
  • Received:2018-04-26 Accepted:2018-07-10 Online:2018-12-20 Published:2018-12-20
  • Contact: Linlin CHEN,Yu YANG;;
  • About author:

    Author: Jin Fengjun (1961-), Professor, specialized in transport geography and regional development studies. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    Key Project of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.KFZD-SW-314; The Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.XDA19040403; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41430636, No.41571159; Bingwei Young Scientist Plan of Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.2016RC202


The rapid progress of China’s industrialization has been manifested in space as the formation and evolution of a series of industrial bases. Employing data from the years 1985, 2001 and 2010, this paper carries out differentiation, screening, and categorization of industrial bases in China. It then analyses the evolutional characteristics of these industrial bases and explores different paths of growth according to their scale or types, and summarizes the general pattern for their formation and evolution. The results of this study indicate that China’s industrial bases as a whole have gone through three spatial stages since the founding of the PRC in 1949: decentralized development before reform and opening up in 1978, gradual concentration in eastern coastal regions during the early period of reform and opening up, and balanced and diversified development since the beginning of the 21st century. By 2010, China had a total of 251 industrial bases and had thereby established the overall spatial map of its industrialization. As industrial bases expand in scale, their industrial structures develop from homogenization to diversification, and then again from diversification to competitive optimization. Leading industries in the vast majority of industrial bases constantly evolve along the track of light industries, basic materials industries, and advanced manufacturing industries. Meanwhile, the key factors in their evolution and development transition from traditional factors of production like resources and labor to new ones like capital and information, but there are significant differences in terms of influencing factors and growth paths between large, medium, and small bases. Small industrial bases primarily rely on natural resources to maintain development through a single leading industry, medium industrial bases gradually become more comprehensive in their industrial compositions, and large industrial bases evolve in the direction of a combination of basic materials industries and equipment manufacturing industries.

Key words: industrial base, differentiation, evolution, model, China