PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (2): 339-352.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.02.014

• Reviews • Previous Articles    

Spatial pattern of China’s urban agglomerations:Theoretical background, formation mechanisms, and latest progress of research of dispersed regional concentration

ZHENG Yanting1,2   

  1. 1. School of Economics and Resource Management, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2. Beijing Key Lab of Study on SCI-TECH Strategy for Urban Green Development, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2019-03-20 Revised:2019-05-21 Online:2020-02-28 Published:2020-04-28
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41801110);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41001094);National Key Research and Development Program of China(2017YFC1503002);Beijing Key Lab of Study on SCI-Tech Strategyfor Urban Green Development, Beijing, China


From the spatial perspective, an urban agglomeration can be understood as the concentration of population and economic activities within a large urban region. In this urban region, the original rural areas were densely involved in industrialization and economic development. On the basis of a comprehensive review of classical theories, this article proposes to understand urban agglomeration from the unique characteristics of spatial patterns, namely, dispersed regional concentration. We believe that the dispersed regional concentration is the result of spatial choices of economic globalization and information technology revolution, and also the product of the unique policies and institutional background of China. As a unique reflection of global manufacturing platform and coordinated control center in space, this fundamental attribute makes urban agglomeration different from traditional regions and not ubiquitous in space. Its dispersive development characteristics represents the most serious resource and environmental constraints, which deserve special attention. The planning strategy based on these decentralized regional units may be easier to implement and achieve results than the current overall urban agglomeration strategy. At the same time, with the implementation of domestic consumption demand strategy and the Belt and Road initiative, the Chinese and international backgrounds of urban agglomeration development are undergoing important transformations. The spatial pattern of dispersed regional concentration does not necessarily apply to all regions of China. This fact is of great significance and must be carefully considered in future regional planning and management.

Key words: urban agglomeration, dispersed regional concentration, megalopolis, mega-urban region, global-city region, globalization