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CHINA was historically a collection of macro-regional economies, with strong transport and commercial links within each region, but much weaker links between regions. The country’s rapid industrialisation and urbanisation since reform and opening in 1978-1980 has led to much more integration at national level, but regionalism remains persistent.
The first map, showing ten macro regions in 1893, is taken from “The Structure of Chinese History”, a presidential address given by Skinner to the U.S. Association of Asian Studies in 1984. The second map, showing nine regions, consolidating the Gan Yangtze region into the Middle Yangtze, is taken from “Evolving core-periphery interactions in a rapidly expanding urban landscape”, Ye et al., 2004. The final set of three maps is taken from the government’s most recent Five-Year Plan (2021):