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China: Geographic Distribution of Industry
Country Study > Chapter 7 > Industry > Geographic Distribution of Industry


Before 1949 industry was concentrated in the large east-coast cities and in the northeast. Shanghai was the largest industrial center, followed by Anshan, Fushun, and Shenyang, all in Liaoning Province. Qingdao, in Shandong, and Tianjin also were important industrial centers. Only a few cities in the interior had any modern industry; they included Wuhan, Chongqing, and Taiyuan.

During the First Five-Year Plan (1953-57), the government specifically emphasized development of the northeast and areas other than Shanghai, China's most important industrial base. Industrial sites were constructed in the north around the new steel mills at Baotou, Nei Monggol Autonomous Region, and in central China in Wuhan, Hubei Province. Industrial centers also arose in the southwest, mostly in Sichuan Province.

In the 1950s, industrial centers in east and northeast China accounted for approximately two-thirds of total industrial output. However, by 1983 industrial centers in the north, south, and southwest had increased their share of output to more than 40 percent. This increase was the result of a policy begun in the 1950s to gradually expand existing industrial bases to new areas, to build new bases in the north and south, and to establish a new base in the southwest.

From 1952 to 1983, south, southwest, and northwest China registered higher industrial growth than the east, northeast, and north regions. Total industrial output grew the fastest in the south -- from 13.7 percent of total output in 1952 to 18.5 percent in 1983. The government had stressed developing the interior regions since the 1950s, but by 1986 it had abandoned that strategy in order to develop areas with more established infrastructures. According to this plan, the south would continue growing, but the east and northeast would be the main benefactors.

Data as of July 1987

Last Updated: July 1987

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for China was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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