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Urban Studies Research
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 162965, 13 pages
Research Article

The Spatial-Temporal Dynamics of China’s Changing Urban Hierarchy (1950–2005)

Department of Geography, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL 60115, USA

Received 17 July 2012; Revised 24 September 2012; Accepted 3 October 2012

Academic Editor: Bo-Sin Tang

Copyright © 2012 Xuwei Chen and Richard Greene. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper examines the dynamic spatial and temporal patterns of China’s urban hierarchy from 1950 to 2005. We limit the study to mainland China’s 137 urban agglomerations of 750,000 or more population as of 2005. The paper improves upon a classic approach to measuring shifting ranks within an urban hierarchy by applying advanced spatial analysis techniques. We use a Getis-Ord , a space-time Moran scatter plot, and dynamic LISA paths to examine the regional difference and change for these urban agglomerations. Our study revealed a north-south divide in the changing urban hierarchy of China after 1990. The analysis demonstrated that the spatial and temporal shift of urban dominance in China was closely associated with policy and economic factors. The paper concludes with a discussion of the differences across the six different time periods of change from 1950 to 2005.