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Identifying China's leading world city: a network approach

Xiulian Ma and Michael F. Timberlake
GeoJournal
Vol. 71, No. 1, Airline networks and urban systems (2008), pp. 19-35
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41148236
Page Count: 17
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Identifying China's leading world city: a network approach
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Abstract

This paper reports our research on China's world cities. Formal network analysis of air passenger linkages for recent years among China's most populous cities and among many of the world's largest cities allows us to identify the country's leading world city from among the leading Mainland candidates, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. We theorize our findings about China's world cities in relation to both global forces (and China's increasing entanglement with them) and the policies and actions of the national state. We examine the national and global urban network through a longitudinal, two-level analysis of airline passenger travel for four time points between about 1990 and 2005. We show that Beijing was China's leading world city at the beginning of the time period, a status it lost nationally in as early as 1995, and then globally 10 years later. On the other hand Shanghai became China's leading world city, and it acquired this status first nationally in 2000, and then globally in 2005. The changing status of the Chinese capital corresponds to the country's increasing involvement with the capitalist world economy. Shanghai's ascendance as the leading world city in China may indicate that global forces have come to play an increasingly important role relative to that of the developmental state.

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