Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (12): 1981-1998.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1700-4

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial production and spatial dialectic: Evidence from the New Urban Districts in China

ZHUANG Liang1, YE Chao1(), HU Senlin2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science (Ministry of Education), School of Geographic Sciences, Shanghai Key Laboratory for Urban Ecological Process and Eco-restoration, Institute of Eco-Chongming, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    2. School of Urban and Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • Received:2019-04-17 Accepted:2019-06-20 Online:2019-12-25 Published:2019-12-06
  • Contact: YE Chao
  • About author:Zhuang Liang (1989─), PhD Candidate, specialized in urbanization and production of space, urban management and administrative division. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(41571138);National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(41771171);National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(41871143);National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(41961029)


New Urban Districts (NUDs) are the important spatial carriers to promote urban expansion or transformation. Since the 1990s, they have been playing a more and more crucial role in China’s urbanization. For NUDs in the strict sense we found that: 96% to the east of Hu Line; 56% within the municipal districts; 64% within 36 km from their every city center and below the area of 423 km 2. The regional distribution follows significant spatial difference as “Eastern Region (50%) - Central Region (42%) - Western Region (8%)”, and the provinces with the largest number of NUDs are Guangdong, Henan, Zhejiang, Liaoning, and Jiangsu. Furthermore, their interesting constructed process highlights the typical characteristics of spatial production and spatial dialectic. This paper uses the theory of the production of space, and discovers that the growth of NUDs is a rapid ternary dialectical process of spatial production: “representations of space” is guided by the top-down governmental power; “spatial practice” is reflected in the hierarchical and regional difference of spatial elements, such as the type, pattern, distance and area of NUD; “spaces of representation” embodies the tension between governmental power and urban development rights, as well as the countermeasure mechanism. The extensibility of spatiotemporal sequences ensures the unity and continuity of spatial (re)production of NUDs. However, this is also facing a series of challenges like the management coordination of administrative division and the increasing unbalanced or inadequate development. Thus, critically rethinking the evolution of NUD is the key basis for achieving sustainable urban renewal and regional orderly development in the new era.

Key words: new town, urbanization, production of space, ternary dialectic, administrative division, development zone