PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (3): 376-388.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2016.03.012

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Polycentric network topology of urban agglomerations in China

Miaoxi ZHAO1,2,3(), Zhifeng LI4, Ye ZHONG1, Ben DERUDDER2   

  1. 1. Architecture School, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510640, China
    2. Geography Department, Gent University, Gent 9000, Belgium
    3. State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Building Science, Guangzhou 510640, China
    4. School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China
  • Received:2015-03-01 Accepted:2015-11-01 Online:2016-03-25 Published:2016-03-25
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.51478189;Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, No.2014A030313260;Key Program of Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, No.SCUT2015ZZ


This study puts forward a systematic analysis tool of urban agglomeration polycentric networks according to the space of flow theory, investigates the enterprise association networks of the twelve urban agglomerations in China empirically, and identifies the basic patterns of prefecture-level cities' spatial relationships through classification. The result indicates that the internal network topology of Chinese urban agglomerations, including the three most typical urban agglomerations (Yangtze River Delta-YRD, Pearl River Delta-PRD, and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region-BTH), is still far from reaching maturity. Specifically, the data of connection to some extent constitute a sparse matrix and the spatial association shows a tree structure. The hierarchy of headquarter locations (outflow) is more concentrated than that of branch locations (inflow), which shows asymmetry of the flows within the urban agglomerations. At the urban agglomeration level, two basic network connection patterns can be identified using cluster analysis of the twelve urban agglomerations internal network topology. The first type including the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Shandong Peninsula, and the western side of the Taiwan Straits, is internally closely connected urban agglomeration networks and shows characteristics of integrated networks. The three most typical urban agglomerations (YRD, PRD, and BTH) are distinct headquarter hubs. The other type containing the rest of the urban agglomerations is internally loosely connected networks and the percentages of cross-city connections are lower than the first type. Most of them show a centripetal structure around the provincial capital or sub-provincial cities topologically.

Key words: urban agglomerations, polycentric network, topology, China