15 Jun 2012

The Regional Studies blog squad note with some alarm that the Beijing conference is nearly upon us. We say 'note with some alarm' in the typical academic manner of not having yet finalised the all important conference presentation but, as usual, we're working to a just-in-time production model so everything will be fine! Anyway, before we all meet up in Beijing we thought we'd take a moment to focus on a very famous Chinese geographer and his similarly famous line. What are we talking about? Look at the map below and then read on... [click the map to view it in full screen]

The famous Chinese population geographer Hu Huanyong identified this line in 1935 as a way of drawing attention to the major West/East split in China in terms of population. This geographical division has been the topic of discussion for a long time and in relation to a number of areas. Strangely enough, there is a Facebook page dedicated to the Hu line. The line divides China roughly into two parts. In 1935 when Hu first identified the split, the West had 57% of the area and 4% of the population. Today, the East has 94% of the population of China, but only 43% of the area. 

Since the conference is in Beijing we'll obviously be to the East of the line and in a province-level city which has nearly 20 million people in it. For scholars of regional studies there is much of interest in the demographic characteristics of China and its regions - not least of which is the rapid growth of population and urban areas in particular, as outlined in this OECD report of 2009. So, take a closer look at the population and characteristics of this fascinating nation, whether you are going to Beijing or not...