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Megalopolisation: An Effect of Large Scale Urbanisation in Post-Reform China

Authors: Siqing Chen


Megalopolis is a group of densely populated metropolitan areas that combine to form an urban complex. Since China introduced the economic reforms in late 1970s, the Chinese urban system has experienced unprecedented growth. The process of urbanisation prevailed in the 1980s, and the process of predominantly large city growth appeared to continue through 1990s and 2000s. In this study, the magnitude and pattern of urbanisation in China during 1990s were examined using remotely sensed imagery acquired by TM/ETM+ sensor onboard the Landsat satellites. The development of megalopolis areas in China was also studied based on the GIS analysis of the increases of urban and built-up area from 1990 to 2000. The analysis suggests that in the traditional agricultural zones in China, e.g., Huang-Huai-Hai Plains, Changjiang River Delta, Pearl River Delta and Sichuan Basin, the urban and built-up areas increased by 1.76 million hectares, of which 0.82 million hectares are expansion of urban areas, an increase of 24.78% compared with 1990 at the national scale. The Yellow River Delta, Changjiang River Delta and Pearl River Delta also saw an increase of urban and built-up area by 63.9%, 66.2% and 83.0% respectively. As a result, three major megalopolises were developed in China: the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong- Macau (Pearl River Delta: PRD) megalopolis area, the Shanghai- Nanjing-Hangzhou (Changjiang River Delta: CRD) megalopolis area and the Beijing-Tianjing-Tangshan-Qinhuangdao (Yellow River Delta-Bohai Sea Ring: YRD) megalopolis area. The relationship between the processed of megalopolisation and the inter-provincial population flow was also explored in the context of social-economic and transport infrastructure development in Post-reform China.

Keywords: Megalopolisation, Land use change, Spatial analysis, Post-reform China

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