Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2014, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (5): 924-942.doi: 10.1007/s11442-014-1129-8

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Evolving a core-periphery pattern of manufacturing industries across Chinese provinces

Qiliang MAO1,2, Fei WANG1,2, Jun LI1,2, Suocheng DONG1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2014-01-15 Accepted:2014-02-16 Online:2014-05-20 Published:2014-05-20
  • About author:

    Author: Mao Qiliang, PhD, specialized in regional economics and industrial location. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Science and Technology Infrastructure Program of China, No.2007FY110300


This paper, concerning uneven development in China, empirically analyzes the core-periphery gradient of manufacturing industries across provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities), and assesses the extent to which these provinces have changed in recent years. Since China’s reform and opening-up, the spatial structure of the economy has presented a significant core-periphery pattern, the core evidently skewing towards east-coastal areas. With the deepening of market reforms and expansion of globalization, industrial location is gradually in line with the development advantages of provinces. The core provinces specialize in those industries characterized by strong forward and backward linkages, as well as a high consumption ratio, a high degree of increasing returns to scale, and labor or human-capital intensity. However, it is the opposite with regard to peripheral provinces, in addition, energy intensive industries are gradually concentrating in these areas. To a certain degree, the comparative advantage theory and new economic geography identify the underlying forces that determine the spatial distribution of manufacturing industries in China. This paper indicates that the industrialization of regions along different gradients becomes unsynchronized will be a long-term trend. Within a certain period, regions are bound to develop industrial sectors in line with their respective characteristics and development stage. A core-periphery pattern of industries also indicates that industrial development differentials across regions arise because of not only the uneven distribution of industries but also the inconsistent evolving trends of industrial structure for each province.

Key words: core-periphery pattern, spatial distribution, manufacturing industries, regional characteristic, industrial characteristic