PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (12): 1450-1462.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2017.12.001

• Special Issue|Political Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

An overview of political geographical thoughts in ancient China

Yungang LIU1(), Fenglong WANG2,3()   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Planning, Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulation, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    3. Institute of Urban Development, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Online:2017-12-20 Published:2017-12-20
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271165, No.41571130, No.41601144


There are rich political geographical arguments and practices in ancient China, which are of great significance to the development of contemporary Chinese political geography. However, neither political geographers nor historians had summarized the historical political geographical thoughts and their implications for the development of modern political geography in China. To help narrow this gap, the current article briefly reviews a large body of historical works and records from the pre-Qin period to the late Qing dynasty from the perspective of modern political geography. The contents are classified into three topics: territorial advantages (mainly including siting of capital and establishment of towns with important military functions), geographical administration (mainly including maintaining the central control over local places, and governing the land and the people), and geopolitical relations (mainly including securing the borderland and defeat the surrounding barbarous nations). The article summarizes the key points of each topic and discusses the similarity and difference between Chinese historical political geographical thoughts and related concepts and theories in Western political geography. We hope that future political geographical research will pay more attention to the traditional wisdom and thoughts in ancient China, as well as to supplement and refine the framework and findings proposed in this article.

Key words: political geographical thoughts, siting of capital, central-local relation, the hua-yi division, geopolitical relation, China