The Yangtze River Economic Belt is one of the three official regional strategies in China. It covers 11 provinces and can be classified into three urban agglomerations (Fig. 1). The Pan-Chengdu-Chongqing urban agglomeration is located in the upstream area and western China.
The Central Triangle urban agglomeration is located in the midstream area and central China. The Yangtze River Delta urban agglomeration is located in the downstream area and eastern China.
We measured the industrial GTFP (Green Total Factor Productivity) and analyzed its spatial pattern evolution. Results showed the subprime mortgage crisis had a significant effect on the industrial green spatial pattern evolution and lead to a different spatial pattern before and after 2008.
From 2003-2008 (see Fig. 2), due to the fact that capital cities usually have innate advantages and could perform better than non-capital cities, the industrial GTFP of capital cities increased higher and remained at a higher level than that of non-capital cities. Thus, three green areas, which centered around each capital city, had formed in the upstream, midstream, and downstream area. A tripartite pattern has formed in 2003-2008. It is also a typical core-periphery pattern with capital cities being the “core” and cities around being the “periphery.”
After 2008, the subprime mortgage crisis had greatly affected the industrial GTFP of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, especially the areas with lower industrial GTFP, like the Pan-Chengdu-Chongqing urban agglomeration. Areas with lower industrial GTFP usually indicates a weak industrial base, lagging technology, and an imperfect industrial structure. As a result, it lacks the strength to deal with the economic shocks and recovers slowly, which could be demonstrated in the spatial pattern evolution.
As Fig.3 shows, the three green areas all narrowed down or even dissipated in 2009-2010 under the impact of the subprime mortgage crisis. The midstream and downstream areas with higher industrial GTFP had recovered quickly. Large amounts of new green poles had emerged since 2011. Meanwhile, the spatial evolution of the upstream area, which is the Pan-Chengdu-Chongqing urban agglomeration, differed from other areas. New green poles had not emerged.
Additionally, the different spatial pattern evolution could also be explained according to the growth pole theory. There are two effects of the green poles. The polarization effect means that the poles could attract an inflow of resources and promote its growth. The diffusion effect refers to the fact that the poles could promote the growth of other regions.
Along with the development of the poles, the main effect tends to change from the polarization effect to the diffusion effect. In this case, green poles in developed regions tend to have stronger diffusion effect. The main effect of green poles in developed areas, like the downstream areas, has changed to the diffusion effect, which could be demonstrated by the large amount of new green poles around. But the upstream area still stays at a polarization effect leading stage, where there are no new green poles.
These findings are described in the article entitled Industrial green spatial pattern evolution of Yangtze River Economic Belt in China, recently published in the journal Chinese Geographical Science. This work was conducted by Lin Li and Ying Liu from Hunan University.