GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (12): 2808-2820.doi: 10.11821/dlyj020200365

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Identifying the spatial scope of megaregions in China from the perspective of accessibility

CHEN Wei()   

  1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2020-05-06 Revised:2020-07-24 Online:2020-12-20 Published:2021-02-20


As a fundamental measurement to depict regional interaction, spatial accessibility has been a marked characteristic of the function of agglomeration and diffusion within urban and regional systems. Considering the spatial heterogeneity of land surface, we in this study developed a more comprehensive analytical method and constructed an accessibility analytical algorithm that more closely approximates the real situation, by integrating both land surface conditions and transport networks, to more reliably determine the overall patterns of accessibility of cities in China at the prefecture level and above. This approach provides a basic guarantee for determining the spatial scope of megaregions in China. The results show that the multi-scalar urban functional regions in China have been recognized at both urban and regional levels from the perspective of spatial accessibility. Utilizing the analyses of urban isochrones, we further identified 15 potential megaregions from the perspectives of spatial continuity, correlation, and compactness. They are the megaregions of Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Chengdu-Chongqing, Shandong Peninsula, Central China Plains, Western Taiwan Straits, Central Shaanxi, Changsha-Zhuzhou-Xiangtan, Central and Western Liaoning, Wuhan, Central Anhui, Central Shanxi, Northern Guangxi and Northern Ningxia. Compared with the 19 megaregions proposed by the Outline of the National “Thirteenth Five-Year Plan” (2016-2020), the 15 megaregions identified in this paper have both commonalities and obvious differences. On the whole, the spatial scopes of the megaregions identified in this paper are generally smaller than those approved by the central government or provincial governments. Therefore, to have a scientific understanding of the differences between “naturally-grown” and “administrative-planned” megaregions is of great value for better playing the role of megaregions and promoting sustainable development of megaregions in China.

Key words: megaregion, spatial scope, functional region, urban isochrones, accessibility