TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (1): 11-19.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003106

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“Replacing Human Labor with Robots” and the New Growth Model of Towns: A Case Study of Shunde District in Foshan City, Guangdong Province

Huang Meiyu1, Qin Xiaozhen2 and Zhou Jinmiao2   

  1. (1. Urban and Rural Planning and Design Institute Co., Ltd, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510000, China; 2. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China)
  • Received:2018-11-10 Revised:2018-12-20 Online:2019-01-05 Published:2019-01-05


Under the influence of “replacing human labor by machine”, new growth of labor-intensive towns appears. In order to analyze its driving force, this paper builds up an analytical framework based on technology, industry, demography and space. Taking Shunde district of Foshan city in PRD as a classical example, the paper investigates this argument and concludes three findings. First, the promotion and application of “replacing human labor with robots” has greatly promoted the technological upgrading of the region. Enterprise and the government jointly promoted the regional technical level from “secondary innovation” to “primary innovation.” Second, technology upgrades have an important impact on industrial upgrades and demographic changes. Technology upgrades have led to the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries such as household appliances. The demand for automation equipment in traditional industries has driven the development of the robot industry. At the same time, technological upgrading has reduced the demand for ordinary labor and created new employment opportunities, which brings changes to the employment structure. Third, industrial upgrading and demographic changes have jointly promoted changes in spatial organizations. Spatial diffusion and agglomeration of innovation elements have formed a pattern of “large agglomeration and small dispersion.” Fringe areas that were not valued in the past have become the new core of regional growth, thereby reshaping the regional spatial structure. In the context of “replacing human labor with robots,” Shunde district has formed a new urban growth model that affects and promotes the interaction of technology, industry, population, and space.

Key words: replacing human labor with robots, technology upgrade, industry upgrade, demographic changes, spatial optimization, town growth model, Shunde District, Foshan City