Orginal Article

Implementation methods and economic impacts of national node strategies

  • QI Yuanjing , 1, 2 ,
  • LIU Tao 3 ,
  • JIAO Jingjuan 4
  • 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 date: 2016-09-28

  Accepted date: 2016-11-02

  Online published: 2017-03-30

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.

Cite this article

QI Yuanjing , LIU Tao , JIAO Jingjuan . Implementation methods and economic impacts of national node strategies[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2017 , 27(3) : 348 -364 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-017-1381-9

1 Introduction

“Cognition, evaluation, construction and optimization” are the basic pathways and main modes of action of human beings in transforming their living environment (Jin, 2013). From an analysis of the construction of regional spatial structures and methods for optimizing spatial organization, it is evident that the formulation and implementation of a series of national spatial strategies, such as regional coordinated development, major function-oriented zoning, key economic zones (belts) and key development nodes, has effectively brought about greater regional spatial order and an improvement in spatial relations.
Since the reform and opening up policy was first introduced in 1978, China has implemented a host of spatial construction and optimization policies aimed primarily at key cities and regions (Lu, 2003). These regional development strategies, which are similar to pilot reforms and centered on key nodes, have played an important guiding role in this process (Lu et al., 1999; Lu and Liu, 2000). These strategies are referred to as national node strategies (NNS) in this paper. Practice has shown NNS to be an extremely fruitful form of scientific exploration within the theoretical system of regional development strategies in the new period (Yang and Hu, 2007; Démurger et al., 2002; Naughton, 2011; Yang, 1990; Wu and Yang 2015). It is foreseeable that in the near future, with the continued promotion of the Belt and Road Strategy, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Economic Zone and the Yangtze River Economic Zone, as well as the ongoing optimization of spatial development patterns based on major function-oriented zoning, NNS will remain the main national strategies for realizing regional resource integration and spatial reorganization.
An analysis of the results of regional spatial development strategies and guiding strategies in China shows that NNS have had, and will continue to have, an important effect on China’s regional spatial organization. A number of empirical studies have already shown the propulsive effects core cities (Zhou and Gong, 2000; Xu et al., 2010) and national development zones (Zheng, 2007) have on regional development. However, the extent of this effect is determined by distance. Places located closer to central cities have bigger markets and stronger economic agglomeration; whereas, places located further from central cities tend to participate in regional economic competition by simply supplying those cities with basic products and services, and their market potential gradually decreases with distance. Once the distance to a central city increases to a certain level, interregional competition is significantly reduced and a place’s own surrounding market size is also shared less with central cities, and its market potential increases (Fujita and Mori, 1997; Fujita et al., 1999; Krugman, 1991). On the basis of this, Dobkins and Loannides (2000) combined this market potential analysis with spatial relations of urban development, pointing out the possibility of a “~”-style spatial relationship (Hanson, 2001; Partridge et al., 2009). Xu et al. (2010) examined the influence of the two major international ports of Shanghai and Hong Kong on urban economic development in 131 Chinese cities, which further confirmed the existence of a “~” -style spatial relationship.
Some scholars have analyzed and evaluated the impact of NNS on regional economic development. These have shown that NNS promote the development of NNS regions and the central cities they are in by improving urban areas, infrastructure, innovation, resources, labor forces and other factors (Meng et al., 2015; Peng et al., 2015). For example, the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, Pudong New Area and Binhai New Area have directly driven the development of the Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta and Beijing-Tianjin- Hebei urban agglomeration, respectively, thereby achieving radial development over larger areas (Liu et al., 2008). The construction and development of national development zones, meanwhile, drives the development of the cities they are located in by leveraging their own agglomeration and diffusion effects (Zhang and Lu, 2002; Wang, 2007).
On the whole, existing studies that have evaluated the specific forms of NNS and their economic effects from theoretical and empirical perspectives have failed to systematically consider or comprehensively inspect the internal unity of different types of NNS, as well as to theoretically summarize their methods of action, transmission mechanisms and modes of action. At the same time, studies are limited in so far as they only looked at NNS in their early years when their economic effects were not yet fully apparent. Furthermore, the number of prefecture-level cities in China has nearly doubled since 1990, so the existing studies do not fully portray the impact of NNS on regional economic structures. To this end, this paper will summarize the basic connotations and modes of action of NNS on the basis of an analysis of the processes and characteristics of regional policy evolution in China and show that their influence on regional economic growth is indispensable and has vital practical significance.

2 The evolutionary processes and characteristics of China’s regional policies since reform and opening up

2.1 Evolution of regional policies in China

Since the policy of reform and opening up was first introduced, and in the course of China’s integration with economic globalization, regional policies have undergone three major evolutions (Lu, 2003; Zhang, 2010) (see Figures 1 and 2) that have promoted orderly development in China, from south to north and from the coast to the interior (Qi et al., 2013).
(1) The period of exploration led by SEZs (1979-1990): During this period, regional policies were mainly focused on eastern coastal areas, with the State developing important development nodes in four main special economic zones (SEZs), 14 open coastal cities and 14 national economic and technological development zones (NETDZ). By providing tax and policy concessions, decentralizing power, transferring profits and using other means to encourage development in these nodes, the government gradually promoted regional development in eastern coastal areas. From there it gradually established coastal open economic areas in seven provinces and two municipalities directly under the central government, including in the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, Xiamen-Zhangzhou-Quanzhou Delta, Shandong Peninsula and Liaoning Peninsula. At that stage, regional policies were based on using exploratory and experimental spatial profit concessions in a limited number of places within a limited territorial region in order to stimulate economic growth. Of these, the success of the experimental Shenzhen Special Economic Zone played a key role as a model for other areas.
(2) The period of expansion guided by development zones (1991-2005): In order to promote further opening up of eastern coastal areas and coordinate development of central and western inland areas using the experiences of coastal areas, the State set up 13 national bonded zones, 35 national economic and technological development zones, 53 national high-tech industrial development zones (NHIDZ), 23 open provincial capitals and cities along the Yangtze River, and 14 national border economic cooperation zones (NBECZ). The success of these initiatives is exemplified by the Shanghai Pudong New Area. The overarching plan was to expand development zones in size, number and type from eastern coastal areas to central and western inland areas using existing experience and models for the sake of overall economic structural optimization. In the more than 10 years of reform and opening up at that time, during which eastern areas experienced rapid economic development, the gap between eastern coastal areas and central and western inland areas had constantly grown. As such, to reduce the regional gap and promote coordinated development, the State also launched strategies for the large-scale development of the western region, rise of central China and revitalization of the old northeast industrial bases. This gradually created an overall plan for the coordinated development of the east, central, west and northeast regions.
(3) The comprehensive optimization stage led by national new areas and national comprehensive reform pilot areas (2006-present): The State announced 18 national new areas, including the Pudong New Area and the Tianjin Binhai New Area, 12 national comprehensive reform pilot areas (NCRPA), 11 free-trade zones and four national key development zones. The objective of regional policies during this period is clearer. It is not only to take on development objectives by taking the lead in creating growth poles, but also to propel the spatial mission of regional development and promote innovative national comprehensive reform pilot areas, with the overall characteristics of comprehensive content, diverse types and a hierarchical structure.
Figure.1 Spatio-temporal evolution of China’s regional development policies
Figure.2 Evolving spatial pattern of priority development zones in China

2.2 Features of the evolution of regional policies in China

Since the policy of reform and opening up was first introduced, China’s regional policies and its regional economic structure have evolved systematically and cyclically (see Figure 3). First of all, the pilot reform of relying on key nodes has played an important demonstrative and leading role, and it has promoted the rapid development of China’s regional policies. In the early stage of the reform and opening up process, against the background of economic globalization, the State lacked a clear reform plan, so it adopted a pilot reform strategy of relying on key nodes, which became important purveyors of innovation within the State system. Due to the path dependence of institutional evolution, especially the exploratory strategy of “crossing the river by feeling the stones”, the formation of key nodes led to subsequent policies being adapted to results in economic development. In other words, subsequent policies were altered based on the outcomes of previous pilot reforms.
Figure.3 Pilot reforms and evolution of regional development policies
Analyzing the evolution of regional policy, the State chose Shenzhen, which was far from the nation’s economic and political centers but adjacent to the Asian financial center of Hong Kong, to trial an SEZ pilot reform. The institutional innovations achieved by the Shenzhen SEZ drove development and created a regional growth pole, and its success proved the effectiveness of the key nodes development strategy. At the same time, under the bottom-up impetus of foreign and domestic capital, the State opened more nodes of new and varying types, including open economic zones and open cities, and encouraged development in these new nodes, eventually encouraging the development of the entire eastern coastal area through the effects of concentration and diffusion. This led to the following: First, regional disparity in China became no longer about differences within regions, but between regions. This meant that the government’s regional policies could no longer be based on nodes; it had to be regional. In response to ever-growing regional disparity, the State introduced strategies for the large-scale development of the western region, the rise of central China and revitalization of old northeast industrial bases. Second, in order to further promote the reform and opening up of eastern coastal areas, and as the focus of reform shifted from labor-intensive secondary industries to high-tech and modern service industries, the State established the Shanghai Pudong New Area and other nodes, and reforms were constantly deepened and more favorable open policies and regions were introduced. In terms of institutional innovation, the disparity between coastal and inland regions at that time did not derive from the depth of reform, but rather its scale, as there were no fundamental differences in the development models and institutional levels of the two regions. Institutional innovation was stagnant in central and western inland areas until the initial institutional innovations from eastern coastal pilot reform areas were expanded across regions and the entire country. As such, the State’s strategy achieved a new upward spiral, and it once again implemented pilot reforms in key nodes in coastal areas in order to promote the next round of institutional innovation.
The government has played a central role in the evolution of regional policy in China, but its specific role has fundamentally changed. First of all, the government has gone from being a facilitator of regional development to a promoter of regional coordinated development. The government first focused on choosing key nodes such as the Shenzhen SEZ through spatial profit concessions and other means, and then launched the large-scale development of the western region, the rise of central China and other strategies, the purpose of which was regional development but fundamentally differed from the Shenzhen SEZ and other key nodes, in order to achieve coordinated development between regions. Second, the government has gone from being a policy innovator to a policy promoter. After the establishment of SEZs and open economic zones, regional policies placed more emphasis on investment, tax incentives and similar institutional promotional policies. Comparing coastal reform and opening up policies and the strategy for the large-scale development of the western region, one can see the fundamental change that took place in the State’s methods for promoting regional development, from institutional innovations in pilot areas to promoting investment in localities and then in wider regions. Third, the government has gone from being a system designer to a passive performer. In the process of institutional evolution and its effects on economic development and regional pattern change, the government is no longer an exogenous force, but has become an endogenous part of regional economic systems and spatial development.

3 Theoretical basis and mode of action of national node strategies

3.1 Definition of national node strategy

Pilot reform strategies with Chinese characteristics have played an important role in China's regional development, with key nodes having also become engines for regional growth and starting points of institutional innovation. This reflects the notion that by identifying, guiding and controlling key nodes, superior areas drive the development of regions (Fan et al., 2001). From a geographical perspective, taking the features and laws of the evolution of China’s regional policies as a starting point, NNS are a type of regional development strategy with pre-established objectives that are implemented in selected cities and regions using preferential policies, institutional innovation guidance, active investment in factors of production and other methods, and that promote pioneering development, play an extremely useful role in promoting growth within regions and ultimately promote the development of surrounding regions and the evolution of the entire economic system. Pioneering, guiding and prospective construction design is a basic characteristic of NNS. Practice has shown that the use of these strategies can produce goal-oriented and distinctive regional development spaces, form regional development growth poles or hubs and guide changes in regional spatial structures, thereby getting closer to, and ultimately achieving, the objective of orderly regional development through their gradual spatial effects.
As an important method of the government for guiding and regulating regional development, NNS are engines of regional growth and conduits of institutional innovation. First, NNS are important growth poles of regional development. Using preferential policies, institutional innovation guidance, active investment in factors of production and other methods, NNS employ active intervention methods involving the addition of policy-type disturbance factors to the regional spatial system to differentiate a place in the spatial organization, thereby creating a polarizing force for regional spatial evolution that plays the role of a growth pole in influencing a region’s overall spatial organization. This allows them to achieve their objective of reconstructing the regional spatial development order. The growth pole effect of the national new area strategy, which is an NNS from the new period, relies on fostering features such as becoming important gateways to the outside world, leading the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries, fostering emerging high-end industries and exploring scientific development models (Peng and Liu, 2014; Hao, 2008). Second, NNS are a type of unique policy-style growth pole. NNS are institutional innovations rooted in the inherent requirements of, and adapted to, regional economic development. This coincides with China’s exploratory reform strategy of “crossing the river by feeling the stones”, with institutional innovations in NNS regions practiced in wider regions. The main spatial form of NNS constantly changes, but the prominent policy guidance is a constant, the significance of which lies in one point driving the development of a wider region. NNS mainly consisted of special economic zones in the early period of the policy of reform and opening up. In recent years, however, they have included national new areas and other new forms. Unlike the open economic zones model which was introduced due to the system in the early years of reform and opening up, recent NNS have been growth poles of “institutional innovation” guided by internal institutional change and endogenous to the regional development pattern. They have needed to have specific objectives and be aimed at specific problems faced in a specific stage of regional development, and specific policy systems have had a certain timeliness and pertinence (Hao, 2008; Wei, 2011; Li, 2012). It can be seen that although the form of NNS has changed, they remain a way for the State to promote NNS regions and the cities and areas they support using such methods as preferential policies, institutional innovation guidance and active investment in factors of production, as well as interactions based on regional features, in order to form unique policy-style growth poles.

3.2 Theoretical basis of NNS

A basic analysis of the content of NNS shows that they are a practical extension of the growth pole theory. Hence the traditional growth pole theory can be seen as an important theoretical basis of NNS. Many studies have analyzed and evaluated the role and impact of growth pole strategy on the regional spatial development of countries including China. Some studies have concluded that this type of space-guiding strategy, which is based on important strategic nodes, has been widely used to boost technological progress, promote regional growth, and coordinate regional development and economic and spatial planning, and that it still has important practical significance (Thomas, 1975; Parr, 1999a; Parr, 199b; Ke and Feser, 2010). Under the guidance of growth pole theory, the practice of regional development has not only spurred the rapid growth of growth poles, but also produced a trickle-down effect following polarization, which has driven the coordinated development of regions as a whole. Nevertheless, achieving the latter has often required the implementation of supporting regional development policies; otherwise, negative effects from excessive polarization can occur (Ding, 1989). Extensive practical implementation and theoretical reflections on this have reinforced the position of growth pole theory in economic geography, and it has become an important theoretical basis of regional spatial organization (Ke and Feser, 2010; Angotti, 2001).
In China, the meaning of growth pole theory has been extended and developed in its applications. On the one hand, in the course of China’s reform and opening up, market and social forces play an increasingly important role in regional economic development (Goldstein, 1995); on the other hand, the State and government have always played an extremely important guiding role in regional economic development and spatial reconstruction. This is actually a core characteristic of the market economy with Chinese characteristics. An important feature of Chinese economic reform has been the strategy of “crossing the river by feeling the stones”, with many institutional innovations and reforms piloted in certain regions before being implemented nationwide once they have proved to be successful (Mcmillan and Naughton, 1992; Bach et al., 2006; Walder, 1995; Nee and Opper, 2010). These pilot regions have gradually become important strategic nodes in national and regional economic development, and pilot institutional reforms in these strategic node regions are a feature of NNS as well as a new application of growth pole theory in the field of institutional reform. As such, NNS are not only traditional growth points for industrial and regional development priorities, but they are also given the important tasks of driving institutional innovation and leading the way for other regions. In this sense, traditional growth pole strategy is not entirely suited to China’s transformation and development practices, but NNS involve innovative applications of growth pole theory in areas such as economic transformation and institutional change, and they are thus a creative development of the growth pole theory itself.

3.3 Modes of action of NNS

According to relevant theories in economic geography and new economic geography, the evolution of regional economic structures is the result of the interaction between the forces of agglomeration and diffusion (centrifugal force). Growth pole, center-periphery and point-axis theories all stress the central role of agglomeration in the process of regional economic development and the evolution of its spatial organization. They hold that sustainable development of the “center” is a powerful argument of economies of agglomeration. At the same time, cities and economic development are affected by the role of centrifugal forces that drive the development of surrounding areas. On the whole, the role of growth pole theory in NNS is to promote the functional upgrading and spatial expansion of cities through agglomeration and diffusion, thereby achieving radial development among urban clusters and greater regions, and forming a gradated regional development model from “the core to the periphery” and from “NNS regions to core cities, to urban agglomerations, to greater regions” (Liu et al., 2008).
The path for implementing NNS can be divided into four stages (see Figure 4). (1) Fostering nodes: NNS have been formulated to meet the relevant objectives of the different periods of the reform and opening up policy. Such methods as preferential policy interventions, institutional innovation guidance and active investment in factors of production have been used to deviate from the conventional development paths of NNS regions, forming regional development growth poles and leveraging strategic regional development. (2) Strengthening the core: Positive interactions between NNS and central cities and regions are the original intention and ultimate goal of their formulation. Under the impetus of NNS, rapid development of NNS regions creates perfect conditions for the spillover of traditional urban functions, the development of modern service industries and the creation of new high-end functions. On the other hand, as important platforms for integration into economic globalization, NNS regions are clusters of regional new and emerging high-end functions that change the traditional industrial structures of the cities they are based in through technological diffusion and industrial incubation, and that promote the upgrading of urban functions. (3) Integrating the margins: Rapid development of core cities can promote the functional upgrading and structural optimization of urban agglomerations by transferring traditional functions to marginal towns and cities and linking development of emerging functions in order to reconstruct the system of functions of urban agglomerations. (4) Developing the periphery: Using such effects as the distribution of population and economic factors of production as well as linking regional functional spaces, the rapid development of urban agglomerations reduces the resource and environmental pressures on peripheral areas and guides their individual development.
Figure.4 Mode of action of national node strategies

4 Testing the impact of NNS on the evolution of China’s regional economic structure

4.1 Models and data

Based on the processes and characteristics of the evolution of regional policies in China, combined with the large-scale emergence of NNS in such forms as State-level New Areas after 2011, as well as their cross-regional impacts, this study takes the economic growth of 338 prefecture-level administrative units across China during the period 2010-2011 as its research focus, and uses an economic growth model to empirically estimate the impact of three major NNS from different periods of China’s reform and opening up, namely the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, Pudong New Area and Tianjin Binhai New Area, on China’s economic landscape reconstruction (Xu et al., 2010).
The model’s dependent variable is the GDP growth rate of each prefecture for 2010-2011. The core independent variable (disnode) is the distance from the city (i) to the three major node strategy cities of Shenzhen, Shanghai and Tianjin. There are two commonly used metrics for the distance to node strategy cities. The first is the transport distance, and the other is the linear distance. Because the former is closely related to economic development, it theoretically generates severe endogeneity, which means regions with faster economic growth are more likely to become key areas of regional transportation development, thereby shortening the transport distance to node strategy cities, but not affecting the exogenous variable of the linear distance between the two. Therefore, this study uses the linear distance from each city to the three major strategic nodes (disSZ, disSH and disTJ) and calculates the nearest distance of the three. This is a common approach in academic research when looking at the impact of spatial factors on economic growth. Given that we are seeking to analyze the spatial gradient of the influence of these variables on economic growth and identify possible spatial inflection points, the model does not include the quadratic and cubic components of these distance variables. Nevertheless, the relationship between the economic growth of these localities and their distance from node strategy cities can only prove the correlation between the two. In order to examine the causal relationship of the impact of distance on growth, it is necessary to control other important variables that may affect urban economic growth. Therefore, based on existing results of economic growth studies, the model controls the impact of important variables, such as economic development level, factor inputs, openness and government capabilities, and relative variables (Xi), including the logarithm of initial GDP, the proportion of investment in fixed assets to GDP, the proportion of the population that is employed, years of education per capita, the ratio of FDI to GDP and the ratio of local fiscal expenditure to GDP. Other control variables generally used in studies on Chinese economic growth include three dummy variables, namely regional urbanization level (the ratio of urban population to total population), population density (the number of people per square kilometer of land) and its quadratic term, and whether a municipality is directly under the central government, a provincial capital, or a city in the central or western region specifically designated in the state plan.
All explanatory variables in the model use data from the selected base year 2010. For many of the above variables, particularly after zonal dummy variables and the degree of opening to the outside world are added to the model, there is very reason to believe that the effect on regional economic growth of the distance to the three node strategy cities is not a simple geographical factor, but rather it is the effect of the focus of this paper, NNS, on spatial structures of national economic growth.
There are three data sources for this paper: the China Statistical Yearbook for Regional Economy (2011 and 2012), county data from the Sixth National Population Census of the People’s Republic of China, and data on distance, area and other spatial variables calculated from a GIS map supplied by the National Fundamental Geographic Information System.

4.2 Empirical results

Using the ordinary least squares estimation technique involving cross-sectional data, together with data on closest node strategy cities and quadratic and cubic components, it was discovered that the cubic component is not significant (Model I), so it was removed and new estimations made (Model II). In order to examine the effects of different eras, strategic objectives and location criteria of the three NNS, we used similar approaches for their estimations (Model III and Model IV). Estimation results from the models are shown in Table 1.
Table 1 Estimation results of the economic impacts of national node strategies
Variable Model I Model II Model III Model IV
lnGDP -0.194 -0.123 -0.141 -0.124
(-0.80) (-0.52) (-0.58) (-0.51)
disnode 0.00645*** 0.00376***
(3.13) (3.65)
disnode_2 -0.00000379** -0.00000122***
(-2.19) (-3.92)
disnode_3 6.14e-10
disTJ 0.00687*** 0.00296**
(2.73) (2.52)
disSH 0.00691*** 0.00286***
(2.81) (3.63)
disSZ 0.00414* 0.00380***
(1.88) (3.62)
disTJ_2 -0.00000302 -0.000000648
(-1.29) (-1.56)
disSH_2 -0.00000416* -0.000000836**
(-1.83) (-2.52)
disSZ_2 -0.000000559 -0.00000102***
(-0.41) (-3.75)
disTJ_3 4.97e-10
disSH_3 6.57e-10
disSZ_3 -1.66e-10
N 338 338 338 338
R2 0.174 0.169 0.227 0.212
adj. R2 0.136 0.133 0.176 0.168

Note: This table includes regression results of control variables; *p< 0.1, **p< 0.05, ***p< 0.01; the value in parenthesis is “t

Based on the estimation results, it is possible to plot the relationship between regional economic growth rate and distance to an NNS city (see Figure 5). The results show the following: (1) After several years or decades of rapid development and expanding roles, node strategy cities are no longer centers of economic growth. On the contrary, after controlling other factors that affect regional economic growth, the economic growth rate differential of cities where NNS are located is positive. In other words, cities where NNS are located have become one of the city types with the slowest economic growth. (2) Areas around cities where NNS are located are gradually entering a stage of economic adjustment. As the distance to a node strategy city increases, the economic growth rate does not decrease, but continues to increase. The rational explanation for this is that the level of urban economic development around node strategy cities is already generally high, most of them having already gone through a stage of rapid extensive growth and entered the stage of structural adjustments and stable growth. From another point of view, it could be said that the impact of NNS on regional economic growth is expanding. (3) The area of influence of NNS on regional economic growth has extended to approximately 1200-1500 km, a distance that covers the entire central region of China, which has been the fastest growing region in recent years. Within this distance, the closer a place is to a node strategy city, the higher its economic development level is, the greater the pressure for economic restructuring gets and the slower its economy grows. Beyond this distance, however, the effect of NNS on economic growth gradually weakens and economic development gets slower and slower.
Figure.5 Estimation results of the economic impacts of national node strategies
If the results of this paper are compared with those of the study by Xu et al. (2010), which used data from the 1990s and early 21st century, one can see that they are really quite different (see Figure 6). Because the data and methods of the two papers are similar, their different results cannot be due to model specifications, and there must be a consistent theoretical explanation behind it instead. It is simply due to different results from different periods. There is a typical stage during which NNS have an impact on regional economic development. One can appreciate the very different results from this perspective. (1) In the initial stage of a strategy’s implementation, institutional innovation and inputs of national resources have an important stimulating effect on the growth of node strategy cities and on surrounding areas in the economic take-off stage; as such, the economic growth rate of node strategy cities and surrounding cities is higher than other regions. Moreover, this difference in the speed of economic growth is huge. In the model-fitting results of Xu et al., the economic growth of cities where NNS are located is 14-15 percentage points higher than cities 600 km away, which although incredible is understandable given the circumstances at the time. (2) In the initial period of the implementation of NNS, their impact on regional economic growth declined rapidly because this ultra-rapid economic growth was heavily dependent on institutional innovations and resource inputs attached to NNS, and the spatial diffusion of these elements did not happen very quickly, which meant their scope was limited. Following several decades of development, the impact of NNS on regional economic development has already changed from simply promoting growth to promoting deeper transformation and upgrading. Indeed, the economic growth rate of urban agglomerations, and even larger areas, where node strategy cities are located is far lower than the national average. It is no longer a way of achieving a short-term economic take-off, but a way of achieving long-term cumulative and gradual structural adjustments. As such, compared with the initial stage of implementation of a strategy, the effect is broader, reaching more than 1000 km, but the intensity of the effect is weaker, with economic growth generally 2-3 percentage points lower than elsewhere.
Figure.6 Comparison of the estimation results of this paper with the previous study
This study also separately examined the effects of three NNS on regional economic growth.As with the results of the comprehensive effect model, the cubic component is not significant, so a quadratic equation was used. However, because of the limited implementation period of the strategy, which means that the impact of the Tianjin Binhai New Area on regional economic growth would not be significant, Figure 7 only compares the impacts of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and Shanghai Pudong New Area NNS, which were implemented earlier. The results show that the spatial influence of the NNS is consistent, but with differing intensities. Economic growth of cities surrounding the earlier strategy of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone is slower. This echoes the recent high-intensity economic structural adjustment policies of the Pearl River Delta and other areas, which reflect the fact that the influence of NNS on regional economic growth is entering a new stage. This situation is similar in the Yangtze River Delta, but because the strategy has only recently been implemented, it is far less intense than the Pearl River Delta. In the foreseeable future, it will be difficult to maintain rapid economic growth in the Yangtze River Delta, with structural adjustment becoming a core issue that the region must face up to, along with a corresponding sustained lower rate of economic growth. As a result, the trend of higher economic growth retreating further into China’s interior will continue to strengthen in the long-term.
Figure.7 Comparison of the economic impacts of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and Pudong New Area

5 Conclusions and discussion

Since the policy of reform and opening up was introduced in 1978, China’s regional development policies have gone through three stages, namely the exploration stage led by Special Economic Zones (1979-1990), the expansion stage dominated by Economic Development Zones (1991-2005) and the optimization stage featuring State-level New Areas and National Comprehensive Reform Pilot Areas (2006-present). Pilot reforms implemented through key nodes have played an important exemplary and leading role in the evolution of regional policies in China and promoted the rapid evolution of China’s regional development policies from localized to widespread implementation. At the same time, the government has gone from being a facilitator of regional development to a promoter of regional coordinated development, from being an institutional innovator to a policy promoter and from being an institutional designer to a passive implementer.
In this paper, strategies involving pilot reforms implemented through key nodes have been referred to as national node strategies (NNS). NNS are typical topics in economic geography in studies concerning the construction of regional spatial organizational forms and spatial intervention, as well as innovative applications and developments of growth pole theory in transitional China. From an analysis of their basic characteristics, it is evident that NNS are engines and important policy-style growth poles of regional development, as well as important conduits of institutional innovations in the transitional era. In terms of their mode of action, positive coupling interactions occur between NNS regions and regional development, forming a gradated regional development model of “NNS regions, central cities, urban agglomerations and greater regions.”
Empirical research shows that the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, Shanghai Pudong New Area and Tianjin Binhai New Area have had profound and sustained impacts on China’s regional economic pattern in different periods of post-reform China. During the initial period of the implementation of NNS, State-led economic and resource investments as well as institutional innovations, including a series of preferential policies, effectively facilitated the rapid growth of economies of NNS cities and their surrounding areas. Nevertheless, although the effects were considerable, their spatial scope was limited, leading to high concentrations of national economic growth centers around NNS regions. As preferential policies have weakened and State investment has fallen, cities where NNS are located have gradually entered a stage of sustained stable growth as well as optimization and upgrading of their economic structures. This is gradually spreading to surrounding areas, along with a corresponding spread in lower economic growth rates, the impact of which is slow and low-intensity but occurring over a vast space. The inevitable result of this is the concentration of rapid economic growth in China’s interior regions. Analysis at the national level shows that the trend of higher economic growth retreating further into China’s interior is an inevitable outcome of the long-term implementation of NNS and is being accompanied by economic structural adjustments and upgrading of areas surrounding node strategy cities. Moreover, the latter are displaying typical characteristics of spatial diffusion and will become core forces affecting the next stage of China’s regional economic development pattern. It is also worth pointing out that results at the national scale do not necessarily apply at a regional or local scale, just as results from an analysis of prefecture-level cities cannot be compared to those from an analysis of county-level cities. Results from analyses of different times, samples and spatial scales may be very different, and comprehensive analysis of these results is the way to analyze spatial effects. In future, further analysis is needed of the spatial effects of NNS at urban and regional scales in order to obtain a more detailed picture of the reality.

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Angotti T, 2001. Ciudad Guayana: From growth pole to metropolis, central planning to participation.Journal of Planning Education and Research, 20(3): 329-338.ABSTRACT Ciudad Guayana in Venezuela is one of the leading examples in the world of a city planned in accordance with the principles of comprehensive rational planning. It was started in the 1960s as a “growth pole” in an isolated part of Venezuela, built around a large steel plant and hydroelectric projects. In the 1990s, the model of planning shifted from centralized to decentralized as a result of the election victories of a radical political party and neoliberal restructuring that weakened central government. The story of this dramatic change contains lessons for planning in the context of the recent wave of expansion in the global economy.


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Démurger S, Sachs J D, Woo W T et al., 2002. Geography, economic policy, and regional development in China.Asian Economic Papers, 1(1): 146-197.Many studies of regional disparity in China have focused on the preferential policies received by the coastal provinces. We decomposed the location dummies in provincial growth regressions to obtain estimates of the effects of geography and policy on provincial growth rates in 1996-99. Their respective contributions in percentage points were 2.5 and 3.5 for the province-level metropolises, 0.6 and 2.3 for the northeastern provinces, 2.8 and 2.8 for the coastal provinces, 2.0 and 1.6 for the central provinces, 0 and 1.6 for the northwestern provinces, and 0.1 and 1.8 for the southwestern provinces. Because the so-called preferential policies are largely deregulation policies that have allowed coastal Chinese provinces to integrate into the international economy, it is far superior to reduce regional disparity by extending these deregulation policies to the interior provinces than by re-regulating the coastal provinces. Two additional inhibitions to income convergence are the household registration system, which makes the movement of the rural poor to prosperous areas illegal, and the monopoly state bank system that, because of its bureaucratic nature, disburses most of its funds to its large traditional customers, few of whom are located in the western provinces. Improving infrastructure to overcome geographic barriers is fundamental to increasing western growth, but increasing human capital formation (education and medical care) is also crucial because only it can come up with new better ideas to solve centuries-old problems like unbalanced growth.


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Fan J, Cao Z, Zhang W et al., 2001. The consideration of strategic innovation of west development based on theories of economic geography.Acta Geographica Sinica, 56(6): 711-721. (in Chinese)In China, regional development is always the main field of economic geography. Especially since reform and opening up, economic geography has developed substantially with the positional elevation of regional development in national economy. At present, the western development strategy will have a deep effect on the pattern of Chinese regional development in the 21st century while economic geography has stepped into the period of transferring from traditional to modem economic geography. Therefore, to consider the innovative strategy of western development from the viewpoint of theories of economic geography is quite necessary to either the cognition of western regions or the development of economic geography. The theories of economic geography have had a significant effect on regional development in China, including the spatial organization theory, the industrial development theory and the instructive theory. As the theoretical bases of the three economic zones construction, "T-shaped" mode of territorial development strategy, areal division and cooperation and so on, the spatial organization theories, including economic locational theory, spatial structure theory, economic regionalization and territorial production complex theory, played an important role in regional development distribution of China. Industrial development theory introduced from economics opens out the rule of regional industrial development, of which the theories of industrial structure elevation and regional trade are of directive significance to the adjustment of industrial structure and exertion of regional comparative advantage. The theory of PRED system harmonious development and the thought of sustainable development brought the complete transformation of regional analysis conception. For the gap of regional development level due to the difference of industrial structure, regional division of industry frequently leads to the economic interest expanse from undeveloped to developed region. It turned out that the western construction didnt promote the improvement of peoples standard of living synchronously with the regional development and cannot overcome the contradiction between economic development and environmental protection. And also, the application of economic theories above-mentioned encounters different obstacles. The paper lays stress on the enforcement of sustainable development strategy in western development, to which there are three premises: calculation of environmental protection and income of western regions from it. materialization of resource product value and reasonable economic benefit of human resource protection. The objective of western development should take inhabitant enrichment for the core. improvement of local people's income level for the keystone, narrowing of social development gap between the west and the east for the instructive thought of gradient devotion of the government, and also strengthen environmental construction and human resources development to build up the sustainable development capacity of western regions. To construct regional characteristic economy and implement unbalanced development strategy arc feasible ways to the adjustment of industrial structure and regional economic development. Characteristic economy mainly includes characteristic agriculture (herding, fruits and so on), light industry (medicine and foodstuff). tertiary industry (tourism industry) as well as high-tech industry. A reasonable spatial structure should be based on the development mode of point-axis system.

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Goldstein S M, 1995. China in transition: The political foundations of incremental reform.The China Quarterly, 144: 1105-1131.Abstract This paper focuses on the emergence and development of the 'non-state' sector (which is considered to be an essential element in the gradualist strategy in industry) and uses it to draw some broader conclusions about the political foundations of reform. The discussion begins on a comparative note by outlining the assumptions that have guided analyses of reform in Soviet-type systems. This is followed by a description of the manner in which these assumptions have been reflected in reform proposals and outcomes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. This provides the basis for consideration of what it might be about China's political institutions and processes that has conditioned an apparently quite different outcome. Finally, assesses the impact which this aspect of the reform strategy has had on the nation's political economy, concluding with a discussion of the challenges its results pose for the Chinese polity.


Hanson G H, 2001. Scale economies and the geographic concentration of industry.Journal of Economic Geography, 1(3): 255-276.In recent empirical literature on spatial agglomeration, many papers find evidence consistent with location-specific externalities of some sort. Our willingness to accept evidence of agglomeration economies depends on how well key estimation problems have been addressed. Three issues are particularly troublesome for identifying agglomeration effects: unobserved regional characteristics, simultaneity in regional data, and multiple sources of externalities. Two empirical results appear to be robust to problems created by the first two issues: (a) individual wages are increasing in the presence of more-educated workers in the local labor force, which is consistent with localized human-capital externalities, and (b) long-run industry growth is higher in locations with a wider range of industrial activities, which suggests that firms benefit from being in more diverse urban environments. Other evidence is supportive of agglomeration effects related to regional demand linkages and short-run, industry-specific externalities.


Hao S, 2008. Study on National Integrated Support Reform Support Pilot Area. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

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Ke S, Feser E, 2010. Count on the growth pole strategy for regional economic growth? Spread-Backwash effects in Greater Central China.Regional Studies, 44(9): 1131-1147.Ke S. and Feser E. Count on the growth-pole strategy for regional economic growth? Spread–backwash effects in Greater Central China. Regional Studies. This paper investigates spread–backwash effects associated with non-agricultural gross domestic product and employment growth across 922 cities and counties in Central China between 2000 and 2005. Simultaneous equation estimates find mixed spread–backwash effects from prefecture and higher-level cities to comparable or lower-level cities and counties. Spread effects of gross domestic product and employment growths are also indicated between county-level cities. However, county-level cities exerted backwash effects on rural counties. The paper discusses the implications of these findings in relation to the construction of urban economic growth zones in Central China as an important strategy of Central Rise. Ke S. et Feser E. Devrait-on compter sur la stratégie de p00les de croissance afin d'assurer la croissance économique régionale? Les effets de répartition et de redisribution en Chine centrale. Regional Studies. Cet article cherche à examiner les effets de répartition et de redistribution liés au PIB et à la croissance de l'emploi non-agricole à travers 922 grandes villes et comtés en Chine centrale de l'an 2000 jusqu'à 2005. Il résulte des estimations provenant des équations simultanées des effets de répartition et de redistribution mitigés dans les préfectures et plus grandes les villes jusqu'aux villes comparables ou aux villes et comtés plus petits. Les effets de répartition de la hausse du PIB et de l'emploi sont aussi indiqués pour ce qui est des villes situées aux comtés. Cependant, les villes situées aux comtés ont eu des effets de redistribution sur les comtés ruraux. Cet article discute des implications de ces résultats par rapport à la construction des zones urbaines, économiques de croissance en Chine centrale comme une importante stratégie de la Vague centrale. Chine centrale69P00le de croissance69Répartition-redistribution69Econométrie géographique Ke S. und Feser E. Kann man sich für regionales Wirtschaftswachstum auf die Wachstumspol-Strategie verlassen? Ausbreitungs- und Entzugseffekte in Zentralchina. Regional Studies. In diesem Beitrag untersuchen wir die Ausbreitungs- und Entzugseffekte durch nicht landwirtschaftliches BIP- und Besch01ftigungswachstum in 922 St01dten und Bezirken von Zentralchina zwischen 2000 und 2005. Durch simultane Gleichungssch01tzungen stellen wir gemischte Ausbreitungs- und Entzugseffekte von St01dten auf Pr01fektur- und h02herer Ebene hin zu St01dten und Bezirken auf vergleichbarer oder niedrigerer Ebene fest. Die Ausbreitungseffekte des BIP- und Besch01ftigungswachstums waren auch innerhalb der St01dte auf Bezirksebene zu verzeichnen. Allerdings übten die St01dte auf Bezirksebene einen Entzugseffekt auf die l01ndlichen Bezirke aus. In diesem Beitrag werden die Auswirkungen dieser Ergebnisse im Hinblick auf die Einrichtung urbaner Wirtschaftswachstumszonen in Zentralchina als wichtige Strategie für den Aufstieg Zentralchinas er02rtert. Zentralchina69Wachstumspol69Ausbreitungs- und Entzugseffekte69R01umliche 00konometrie Ke S. y Feser E. 07Podemos contar con la estrategia de los polos de crecimiento para el crecimiento económico regional? Efectos de dispersión y regresión en China central. Regional Studies. En este artículo investigamos los efectos de dispersión y regresión asociados al PIB no agrícola y el crecimiento de empleo en 922 ciudades y distritos de China central entre 2000 y 2005. En los cálculos de ecuación simultánea observamos efectos combinados de dispersión y regresión desde ciudades a un nivel de prefectura o más alto hacia ciudades y distritos a un nivel comparable o más bajo. Los efectos de dispersión del PIB y crecimientos de empleo también se observan entre las ciudades a nivel de distrito. Sin embargo, las ciudades a nivel de distrito ejercieron efectos de regresión frente a los distritos rurales. En este artículo presentamos las implicaciones de estos resultados con relación a la construcción de las zonas urbanas con crecimiento económico en China central como una importante estrategia para el auge de China central. China central69Polo de crecimiento69Dispersión-regresión69Factores econométricos espaciales


Krugman P, 1991. Increasing returns and economic geography.Journal of Political Geography, 99: 483-499.

Li X, 2012. The diamond structure: On the evolution of the national spatial strategy.Urban Planning Forum, 200(2): 1-8. (in Chinese)This paper reviews the evolving process of national spatial strategies since the country adopted the open-door policy.Based on a study of China's core city clusters,national key cities and national development zones,the paper summarizes the development trajectory using "diamond structure" concept.In addition, the study explores the significance of the national spatial structure from perspectives of international competitiveness,regional development and industrial development and indigenous culture.At the end,the paper also provide an open projection of China's spatial development pattern in the socioeconomic realm.

Liu N, Liu X, Zhao L, 2008. Evolution of regional development and spatial structure in China.Journal of Finance and Economics, 34(11): 76-87. (in Chinese)

Lu D, 2003. Theory and Practice of Regional Development in China. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

Lu D, Liu W, 2000. Analysis of geo-factors behind regional development and regional policy in China.Scientia Geographica Sinica, 20(6): 487-493. (in Chinese)Since the 1980s, economic development in China has been remarkably vigorous as a result of the smooth but continued opening and reform and the gradual development of a socialist market economy. Indeed, fast growth has been turbulently transforming the physical, social and economic structure of different regions, leading to increasing regional disparity of development. Issues related to regional disparity have been deeply concerned by both state and local policy makers, and the whole society as well. At present, the Chinese central government is making great efforts to accelerate the development of the west region, with the hope of smoothing the gap between the west and the east. Regional development and disparity, however, are the result of handful factors, and can not be well understood by the sole policy explanation. Among these factors, geo factors are fundamental. From the perspective of human nature relation, geo factors that effect regional development are the nature part in such a relation and the spatial structure resulted from the interaction between human activities and the nature, including natural conditions, location, endowment of natural resources, eco environment and infrastructures. Compared to economic factors, the geo factors have a steady and prolonged impact on regional development. This paper analyses the regional features of geo factors, stresses their functions in regional development and their significant role in policy making, and raises suggestions to future regional policy making based on such a geo factors analysis.

Lu D, Liu Y, Fan J, 1999. The regional policy effects and regional development states in China.Acta Geographica Sinica, 54(6): 496-508. (in Chinese)The paper condensed the m ajor viewpoints of 1997 RegionalDevelopm ent Re- port ofChina. The report took the regionaleconom ic developm ent as the m ajor them e, sum m arized m ainly the regionalpoliciesatnationaland provinciallevelsduring theeighth- five-yearplan and early stageoftheninth-five-yearplan, analyzed and evaluated thepolicy effects, developm entstates, existing problem s, and put forw ard som e recom m endations for regionaldevelopm entpolicies. Based on thesystem aticdiscussions, thepaperdrew the conclusions as follows: 1) The m acro-strategy to develop the coastalregions as priority exactly m atched our country's situations atpresentstage, and the policies to im prove the Middle and WestChina developm enthad positive effectsto reverse the trends ofenlarged differencesbetw een the Eastand WestChina; 2) To realize the overallstrategictargetsof hree-stage-theory tillrequired theenforcem entofcoastalm odernization pulling strat- egy, and the infrastructure and socialdevelopm entshould be the priorities in the Middle and WestChina developm ent; 3) The pole ofregionaldevelopm entshiftsouthwards, the econom ic grow th in theSouth wasm oreactive, thestructuralissuesin theNorth hinderedthe socialand econom icdevelopm ent. During the processes ofreducing the regionaldiffer- encesbetween the Eastand the West, the difference ofeconom ic activities and structures between the North and the South should also be taken into considerations; 4) The abso- lute differences ofeconom ic developm entlevels enlarged rapidly am ong allprovinces, au- tonom y regionsand m unicipalities. How ever, therelative differencesshow ed thetrendsof declining; 5) There were w idely progressatprovinciallevelsin industrialstructuralalter- nations and new econom ic growth pole innovations, the provincialdevelopm entcharacter- ized with uniquefeatures,thedifferencesoftransportation, com m unication, infrastructure becam e m ore obvious, the allocation of grain production bases shifted northw ards and westw ards, and the problem s eagerto success and ofduplicate construction w ere very se- vere in grain production aspects; 6) The out-wards econom ic developm enthavegreatcon- tributions to sustainable and rapid econom icgrowth since reform and opennessbegan, but the effectsoffavorite policies in specialregionsand coastalopen cities declined gradually, thecontinued absorption offoreign fundsdepended gradually on econom icdevelopm entac- tivities of particular regions. Our country's out-ward econom ic developm ent should en- force the regionalcore rolesofspecialregionsand coastalopen cities w hich were m ore ac- tive in econom ic developm ent; 7)The changes ofpoverty alleviation strategies have taken place from quantity to quality. The differences ofpoverty alleviation effectsam ong differ- entregionswereobvious, so did the facing problem s; 8)Thetaxation reform m etthe sub- jectneedsto controlthe regionalresourcesin m arketeconom y, and itincreased the finan- cialcapacity ofcentralgovernm ent, butthedream to im prove theregionalcoordinated de- velopm ent did not com e true. The distribution ofcentralgovernm ent financialaids were unfair between the less developed and m ore developed regions, and the correlation was very w eak between the financialaids percapita and GDPper capita ofeach province, au- tonom y region orm unicipality; 9)Thescopeofregionaleconom iccooperation enlarged and the form s diversified. The cooperation betw een the East and the West had obvious progress, but the cross-regions econom ic and technicalcooperation w as facing financial and banking barriers; 10)High developm entgrowth rate resulted in m ore and m oresevere ecologicalproblem swith therelatively seriousw aterand airpollution and very severe eco- logicaldegradations.

Mcmillan J, Naughton B, 1992. How to reform a planned economy: Lessons from China.Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 8(1): 130-143.No abstract is available for this item.


Meng G, Wang H, Yang S, 2015. Study on evolution and dynamic mechanism of Tianjin pilot free trade zone.Acta Geographica Sinica, 70(10): 1552-1565. (in Chinese)In recent years, the Free Economic Zones(FEZs), as a product of economic globalization and regional economic integration, have become the growth poles of economic development in developing countries, the motivations of urbanization and a significant stage for the reforms of related institutions. In China, there is an urgent need to construct free trade zones in order to meet the new challenges of globalization and international trade structure, to strengthen the reform motivation, and to carry out the national strategies of One Belt and One Road and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration. At present, some experts and scholars scrutinize the rules and factors contributing to FEZs' development based on the qualitative analysis.However, they are still confronted with less research on evolution law in FEZs on account of quantitative research methods. Therefore, this paper applies methodologies such as interview,and questionnaire to collect data based on domestic and overseas theories and case studies about FEZs. It also adopts the analysis of hierarchy process and fuzzy evaluation method,selects seven elements: policies, markets, environments, industries, inputs, benefits and innovativeness, and establishes the index system and evaluation model of FEZs' development evolution mechanism. Finally, with the aid of the model and combined with the actual situation of Tianjin Binhai New Area, the paper analyzes the main driving forces of Tianjin Pilot Free Trade Zone's development dynamic mechanism. This study is an asset to the transformation and development of the FEZs in China as well as further theoretical research in the future.


Naughton B, 2011. China’s economic policy today: The new state activism.Eurasian Geography and Economics, 52(3): 313-329.A noted American authority and investigator of China's economy outlines the general features of the ongoing reorientation of Chinese economic policymaking toward increased state activism, which has gained momentum in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. An initial section of the paper describes the marketization and privatization initiatives of China's late reform period to provide a baseline against which to measure the subsequent shift toward increased state intervention and guidance in the economy. The author traces the shift in three critical policy arenas (social policy, state-owned enterprises, and industrial and technology policy) and demonstrates how state involvement in each intensified during the global financial crisis. He then proceeds to explore the implications of accelerated state activism in the future, identifying potential rewards as well as large risks. Among the latter are macroeconomic imbalances, a "softening" of budget constraints, difficulties in recognizing and terminating unsuccessful economic programs, and tensions with trading partners.


Nee V, Opper S, 2010. Political capital in a market economy.Social Forces, 88(5): 2105-2132.This research applies a transaction-focused institutional analysis to compare the value of political capital in different institutional domains of China's market economy. Our results show that the value of political capital is associated with institutional domains of the economy in which agents can use political connections to secure advantages. Political capital is most fungible in institutional domains where government restricts economic activity. In this sense, the value of political connections in China does not differ fundamentally from patterns observable in established market economies. We interpret this as evidence suggesting China may have experienced a tipping point in its transition to a market economy around the turn of the new century.


Parr J B, 1999a. Growth-pole strategies in regional economic planning: A retrospective view: Part 2. Implementation and outcome.Urban Studies, 36(8): 1247-1268.

Parr J B, 1999b. Growth-pole Strategies in Regional Economic Planning: A retrospective view: Part 1. Origins and advocacy.Urban Studies, 36(7): 1195-1215.The paper continues from Part 1 which appeared in the previous issue of the journal. The primary concern is with neglected aspects of the growth-pole strategy, particularly as these relate to its implementation. Of importance here are the spatial configuration of the planned poles, the economic activity to be located within these, the spillover effects of a planned pole, and the presence of a pole within an existing urban system. Consideration is also given to the failure, abandonment and non-adoption of the strategy and to the reasons for this. It is argued that growth-pole strategy has never been evaluated in terms of an adequate conceptual framework, and the rudiments of one such framework are outlined.


Partridge M D, Rickman D S, Ali K et al., 2009. Do new economic geography agglomeration shadows underlie current population dynamics across the urban hierarchy?Papers in Regional Science, 88(2): 445-466.Although the New Economic Geography (NEG) has been used extensively to formally explain the emergence of the American urban system, few studies investigate its success in explaining current population dynamics in a more established urban system. This study explores whether proximity to same–sized and higher–tiered urban centres affected the patterns of 1990–2006 US county population growth. Rather than casting NEG agglomeration shadows on nearby growth, larger urban centres generally appear to have positive growth effects for more proximate places of less than 250,000 people. However, there is some evidence the largest urban areas cast growth shadows on proximate medium–sized metropolitan areas and of spatial competition among small metropolitan areas. Resumen Aunque la Nueva Geografía Económica (NEG, por sus siglas en inglés) ha sido utilizada ampliamente para explicar de modo formal el surgimiento del sistema urbano estadounidense, pocos estudios investigan su éxito en explicar las dinámicas de población actuales en un sistema urbano más establecido. Este estudio explora la posibilidad de que centros urbanos del mismo tama09o y de elevada magnitud afectó a los patrones de crecimiento poblacional en condados de los EE.UU. en 1990-2006. En lugar de proyectar sombras de aglomeración de acuerdo a la NEG sobre el crecimiento cercano, los centros urbanos más grandes parecen tener en general efectos de crecimiento positivos en lugares cercanos de menos de 250,000 habitantes. Sin embargo, existen indicios de que las áreas urbanas más grandes proyectan sombras de crecimiento sobre áreas metropolitanas próximas de tama09o mediano y de competencia espacial entre áreas metropolitanas peque09as. <P>


Peng X, Liu J, 2014. Grand strategy, large platform and remarkable accomplishments: The role of national new districts in West China to the new-type urbanization.City Planning Review, S2: 20-26. (in Chinese)This paper summarizes the prophase study, planning and design, and subsequent implementation consulting services of several national new districts in the West China, including Liangjiang( Chongqing), Tianfu(Sichua n), Lanzhou(Gansu) and Gui'an(Guizhou) as well as the corresponding provincial urban system plan. From the empirical research perspective, it asserts that the national new districts in the West China are not simple imitation of the developed areas in the East China, but a new strategic platform for the region to play its due role at the national level.

Peng J, Wei H, Li G et al., 2015. Research on location accessibility of national new areas based on urban agglomerations.Geographical Research, 34(1): 3-14. (in Chinese)As an important way to promote the rapid development of regional economy, society and new kind of urbanization, the construction of national new areas is a crucial optimization practice of territorial spatial development patterns. The research on location accessibility of national new areas has become the important prerequisite of developing scientific and reasonable regional development patterns. Considering urban agglomerations' leading role for China's regional economic development and the fundamental support for the construction of new areas,this article took China's existing 23 urban agglomerations as the research object. The evaluation framework and index system of development strategy orientation plus construction supporting conditions(1+4) was built to assess the location accessibility of national new areas. The results show that urban agglomerations of Yangtze River Delta, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Pearl River Delta, Chengdu-Chongqing, Shandong Peninsula, Liaodong Peninsula, West Coast, Wuhan, Jianghuai, Central Plains, Hohhot-Baotou-Ordos, and Harbin-Daqing-Changchun are more capable in terms of the construction supporting conditions for national new areas. However, urban agglomerations of Yangtze River Delta, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Pearl River Delta, ChengduChongqing, Liaodong Peninsula, Guanzhong, West Coast, Shandong Peninsula, Central Plains,Lanzhou-Baiyin-Xining, and Central Guizhou are the best location for national new areas in terms of both regional development strategy orientation and the fundamental supporting conditions. Furthermore, one or two national new areas with different functions can be built in urban agglomerations which have the best construction supporting conditions. The assessment result matches well with the distribution pattern of the existing national new areas, which indicates the reasonability of the evaluation framework and index system on location accessibility.


Qi Y, Yang Y, Jin F, 2013. China’s economic development stage and its spatio-temporal evolution: A prefectural-level analysis.Acta Geographica Sinica, 68(4): 517-531. (in Chinese)As important mechanisms of regional strategy and policy, prefecture-level regions have played an increasingly significant role in the development of China economy. However, little research has grasped the essence of the economic development stage and the spatiotemporal evolution process at the prefecture level; this may lead to biased policies and their ineffective implementations. Based on Chenery economic development theory, this paper identifies China economic development stages at both national and prefectural levels. Both the Global Moran I index and the Getis-Gi* index are employed to investigate the spatio-temporal evolution of China economic development from 1990 to 2010. Major conclusions can be drawn as follows. (1) China economic development is generally in the state of agglomeration. It entered the Primary Production Stage in 1990, and the Middle Industrialized Stage in 2010, with a alanced-unbalanced-gradually rebalanced鈥pattern in the process. (2) China rapid economic growth experienced a spatial shift from the coastal areas to the the inland areas. Most advanced cities in mid-western China can be roughly categorized into regional hub cities and resource-dependent cities. (3) Hot spots in China economy moved northward and westward. The interactions between cities and prefectures became weaker in Eastern China, while cities and prefectures in Central and Western China were still at the stage of individual development, with limited effect on the surrounding cities. (4) While the overall growth rate of China economy has gradually slowed down during the past two decades, the growth rate of cities and prefectures in Central and Western China was much faster than those in coastal areas. (5) Areas rich in resources, such as Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, have become the new hot spots of economic growth in recent years. For these regions, however, more attention needs to be paid to their unbalanced industrial structures and the lagging social development against the backdrop of the rapid economic growth, driven predominantly by the exploitation of resources.

Thomas M D, 1975. Growth pole theory, technological change, and regional economic growth.Papers in Regional Science, 34(1): 3-25.No Abstract available for this article.


Walder A G, 1995. China's transitional economy: interpreting its significance.The China Quarterly, 144: 963-979.China's post-Mao economic reforms have generated rapid and sustained economic growth, unprecedented rises in real income and living standards, and have transformed what was once one of the world's most insular economies into a major trading nation. The contrast between China's transitional economy and those in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union could not be more striking. Where the latter struggle with severe recessions and pronounced declines in real income, China has looked more like a sprinting East Asian “tiger” than a plodding Soviet-style dinosaur mired in the swamps of transition. The realization that reform measures and energetic growth continue even after the political crisis of 1989 has made China a subject of intense interest far outside the customary confines of the China field. Understood increasingly as a genuine success story, it is moving to the centre of international policy debates about what is to be done to transform the stagnating economies of Eastern Europe, and various aspects of its case now figure prominently in academic analyses ranging from theories of the firm and property rights to the political foundations of economic growth.


Wang H, 2007. The NSDZs-LED urban sprawl in Xi’an: A non-typical suburbanization?China Soft Science, (10): 93-103. (in Chinese)Based on the data from a variety of sources,such as the population statistics,‘the 2nd National Census of Basic Economic Units in China’,real estate development,and the dossier of city planning and construction,from a multi-dimensional perspective,the dynamics and tendencies of the NSDZs-led urban sprawl in Xi'an are analyzed in this paper,where"NSDZs"(New Special Development Zones) refer to various specialized economic development areas in which comparatively"special"economic policies,institutional systems,and management instruments are applied,ai- ming to promote the regional development by attracting inward investment and fostering competitive‘new economies’. Besides,by comparing the characters and features of this NSDZs-led urban sprawl with acknowledged typical subur- banization model,a question whether this NSDZs-led urban sprawl can be regarded as a kind of non-typical subur- banization is discussed.

Wei H,2011. Evaluation and Prospects of Regional Policy in China. Beijing: Economy & Management Publishing House. (in Chinese)

Wu H, Yang Z, 2015. Study on the national strategic space evolution basing on the analysis of the national new area strategy.Urban Development Studies, 22(3): 1-11. (in Chinese)Until now,11 National New Area has been approved by the State Council since the establishment of Pudong new area in1992. These " new special zone" are located in major economic zones and group city areas and enjoy high specifications of the system and policy support in the past 30 years since China' s reform and opening up. They have been the leading reform areas where new practices would first to try and they assume the mission of driving the regional economic development and promoting the competitiveness of the region and nation. This paper inspects the emergency background,urban scale and characteristics of the National New Areas and discuss on the regional and national status in the development of urban transformation. Also the paper raised the potential problems and development tendency of the National New Areas in the future.

Xu Z, Chen Z, Lu M, 2010. The core-periphery model of urban system in China.The Journal of World Economy, (7): 144-160. (in Chinese)

Yang D, 1990. Patterns of China’s regional development strategy. The China Quarterly, 122: 230-257. (in Chinese)The purpose of this article is to compare and contrast China's approaches to regional industrial development in the Maoist and post-Mao periods. By focusing on patterns of investment and regional shares of gross value of industrial output (GVIO), this article will argue that China's regional industrialization strategy has changed to one of uneven regional growth in the post-Mao period from the Maoist emphasis on eradicating regional industrial disparities through interior–orientated investments. In short, the post-Mao Chinese leadership has not only relaxed its Incantation of the Golden Hoop, or strait-jacket on the coastal region but has come to rely on the coastal region to provide the “engine of growth” for China's economic development. For the sake of simplicity, I will call the development strategy of the 1953–78 period the “Maoist development strategy.” Though it varied in degrees in different sub-periods, the Maoist strategy dominated China's industrialization efforts until it gradually faded out in the late 1970s. It relied on heavily redistributive measures in an attempt to equalize regional economic development, emphasized- Extensive rather than intensive modes of economic growth, and allowed no foreign direct investment in China. In contrast, the post-Mao Chinese leadership has gradually, but decidedly, reversed the Maoist model and come to adopt a new development strategy. This new strategy, which, for lack of a better term, I shall call the “uneven development strategy,” represents another attempt to bring China out of economic backwardness. Focusing on economic results, the new strategy emphasizes regional comparative advantage, accepts regional disparities as inevitable, encourages foreign investment and international interaction, and seeks to foster technological innovation.


Yang J, Hu X, 2007. The comprehensive reform based on the comparative study on Shanghai, Tianjin and Shenzhen.Shanghai Journal of Economics, (3): 3-12. (in Chinese)

Zhang K, 2010. Regional Strategies and Regional Development in China. Beijing: China Development Press. (in Chinese)

Zhang X, Lu D, 2002. Land use in the development areas and its interactive relationship with regional development.Resources Science, 24(5): 32-38. (in Chinese)The Development Areas in China, after more than 10 years' development, have contributed a lot to regional development. Thus, it has caught concerns not only from the central and local governments, but also from researchers. Existing literature have involved in the development, allocation and planning of industries within the Development Areas, and there are large amount of literature concerning about land use of the Development Areas. Based on the field investigation of main Developing Areas located in the coastal regions of China, the main concern of this paper is devoted to discuss the mechanism of how to combine the land development of Development Areas with the regional development, from an interactive perspective. It is argued that planning in advance, rolling development of land, land development synchronous with regional urbanization, and land development combining with spatial allocation of industries should be the key forces that can speed up both the development of the Development Areas and that of relevant regions.


Zheng G, 2007. Research on the driving effect of economic and technological development zone on region.Areal Research and Development, 26(2): 20-25. (in Chinese)From the point of economic contacts between enterprises,this paper analyzed the evolution of the driving effect of Economic and Technological Development Zone on region.Then it estimated its current ability,and analyzed its mechanism.The results included: the driving effect of Economic and Technological Development Zone on region has came through a process of from weak to strong.Its current ability is a little weaker than the export processing zones in Korea and Taiwan,but much stronger than that of other countries.There are two reasons of it,one is the huge market and its upgrade requirement structure of China,the other is the unisonous relationship between development zone and the whole development strategy of China.At last,this paper forecasted the driving force in future,and put forward advice for evaluating the Growth Pole Theory correctly.

Zhou S, Gong L, 2000. The effect of unbalanced theories applied in the Yangtze Delta.Economic Geography, 20(4): 1-6. (in Chinese)Abstract:For various regional developing problems after World War II,the unbalanced theories has been developed quickly.The governments of most nations have been seeking for a theory to conduct their regional planing and some of them have made success.This paper described the main unbalanced theories and their application in some countries.Based on the “shift-share”analysis of the spatial process of economic extension in the Yangtse Delta during 1980's and 1990's, we found that the development of Shanghai drove the development of whole country. When the new century comes to us,the growing poles will still play important role in the first decade.Shanghai as a growing pole should brings along the development of the industrial axis along Yangtse River.In the basis of the analysis before,we provide some suggestions about industrial plan.Finally,we pointed out the shortage of“shift-share”method.