PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2021, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (5): 848-857.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2021.05.011

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A rethinking of the theoretical connotation of megaregion in the new era

CHEN Wei1(), XIU Chunliang2,*()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. School of Jangho Architecture, Northeastern University, Shenyang 110169, China
  • Received:2021-02-17 Revised:2021-04-20 Online:2021-05-28 Published:2021-07-28
  • Contact: XIU Chunliang;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41901154);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871162);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41530751)


Within the context of globalization and informatization society, inter-city competition is no longer bound to the scalar attributes of individual cities, such as geographic location, administrative hierarchy, population size, and so on, but rather increasingly depends on their positions in the division of labor and multi-scalar spatial functional linkages. Along with the current tendency of urban networking and clustering development, megaregion has become the spatial organization pattern with global significance in response to the present new competition and corporation situation. To understand megaregions in China, the differentiation and relationships between different concepts of urban functional regions in both Chinese and Western urban geography studies were systematically examined. The Chinese native concept of "Chengshiqun", as an urban region with flexible scale, is mostly similar to the concepts of mega-city region, megapolitan area, or megaregion in Western academic literature. To make it simple, we used the concept of megaregion to refer to the Chinese "Chengshiqun" in this article. In terms of the spatial meanings, we argue that a megaregion is: 1) a mega urbanized region consisting of more than two urban systems; 2) an urban system with both morphological continuity and functional cohesion; 3) a mega economic unit produced and shaped through the interaction of globalization and localization; and 4) a type of scale fix in today's urban and regional division and integration of labor. Specifically, the basic conditions for the development of megaregion mainly include high comprehensive carrying capacity of resources and environment, close spatial proximity of the metropolitan area to multiple single urban systems and compactness in geographic space, well-developed infrastructure networks, coordinated functional division and economic linkages, and relatively coherent social network and cultural identity. In future studies, we should pay special attention to exploring the spatial agglomeration effects and evolution of megaregions from the perspectives of relational geography and city network.

Key words: megaregion, mega-city region, megapolitan area, megalopolis, functional urban region