GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (7): 1664-1677.doi: 10.11821/dlyj020180328

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Competitiveness and regional inequality of China’s mega-city regions

Fan ZHANG1,2(), Yuemin NING1,2, Xiyang LOU1,2   

  1. 1. Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2. School of Urban and Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2018-04-03 Revised:2019-05-10 Online:2019-07-20 Published:2019-07-12


Mega-city regions have emerged as the main spatial form of China's new urbaniza-tion strategy, and become the basic spatial units of participating in global and regional competition for China. However, mega-city regions are not equally capable of boosting regional economic development due to different levels of development. Therefore, this paper adopts the concept of competitiveness, as both theoretical framework and empirical model, to evaluate the development status of China’s mega-city regions. This paper firstly reviews the definition of China’s mega-city regions, the concept of competitiveness of mega-city regions and the methodology to evaluate the competitiveness of mega-city regions. Based on the review of related literatures, this paper proposes a multi-tier evaluation system to calculate the competitiveness of 13 mega city-regions of China. The chosen indicators come from the five perspectives of economic development, human resource, infrastructural accessibility, integration into global economy and capacity of scientific and technological innovation. The result shows that there are great disparities and regional inequality in competitiveness across different mega city-regions. Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta and Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan are the first-tier mega city-regions with the highest level of comprehensive competitiveness and have significant global influence as well. Chengdu-Chongqing, Shandong peninsula, South-central Liaoning and Wuhan belong to the second-tier mega city-regions that shows partial advantages and has significant regional influence. Southeast Fujian, Changsha-Zhuzhou-Xiangtan, Central Plains and Central Shaanxi Plain belong to the third-tier mega-city regions. Harbin-Daqing-Qiqihar and Changchun-Jilin belong to the fourth-tier mega-city regions. The third and fourth tiers of mega-city regions have relatively weak competitiveness. Aside from disparities in competitiveness, regional inequalities exist for the uneven distribution of high-weight indicators that consist of the core competitiveness. In general, core competitiveness consists of the advanced productive factors such as the ability of scientific and technological innovation, integration into global economy and capacity of capital agglomeration. The differences of the core competitiveness between coastal and inland mega-city regions are the main manifestation of regional inequalities. Due to the highly unbalanced distribution of the advanced productive factors among the eastern, central and western regions, the regional inequalities of China will probably exist for a long time.

Key words: competitiveness, mega city-region, evaluation indicators, regional inequity, China