PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2018, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (7): 865-879.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2018.07.001

• Reviews •     Next Articles

Shifts in China's economic geography studies in an era of industrial restructuring

Shengjun ZHU(), Chong WANG   

  1. Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2017-12-20 Revised:2018-03-03 Online:2018-07-28 Published:2018-07-28
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41701115;National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, No.41425001;Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41731278


During the 1980s and 1990s, China's economic transition and institutional change characterized by the triple process of marketization, decentralization, and globalization enabled it to emerge rapidly as a global supplier particularly of the low-end, labor-intensive manufacturing industries, resulting in enormous spatial and temporal variations of the economic landscape. However, since the early 2000s, the "race to the bottom" that typified the "China price" and the model of export-oriented industrialization has been challenged by various factors, which triggered another round of industrial restructuring and produced new economic geographies of production and employment in China. This article provides a review of existing research on the geographical and industrial dynamics of China's manufacturing industry, by paying particular attention to two strands of literature. One strand examines China's "old" economic geographies during the 1980s and 1990s, while the other strand builds on recent insights in economic geography on industrial clustering, global and regional production networks, upgrading, relocation, and national and regional industrial evolution, and takes into account the role of state actions and institutional contexts, the rise of China’s domestic market, the role of local agents, and other factors that have been often overlooked in traditional industrial restructuring literature.

Key words: manufacturing, industrial restructuring, pattern of economic geography, China