Tropical Geography ›› 2023, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (4): 567-580.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003667

Special Issue: 数字经济

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Research Progress and Prospects of Chinese Cybergeography Against the Background of the Digital Transition

Jinliao He1(), Mingfeng Wang1, Guangliang Xi2, Huashen Zhu3, Juncheng Dai4, Xu Zhang5   

  1. 1.The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2.School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
    3.School of Geographic Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100088, China
    4.School of Culture and Media, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing 100081, China
    5.School of Resources and Environmental Engineering, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, China
  • Received:2023-03-06 Revised:2023-03-27 Online:2023-04-05 Published:2023-05-08


Cybergeography, an emerging subfield of human geography, has received increasing attention over recent decades. In particular, the digital transition of cities and the rapid rise of the digital economy have provided an impetus to the development of Cybergeography in China. This study attempts to provide a literature review of the research progress in Cybergeography in China over the past two decades regarding its disciplinary characteristics, main branches, and evolutionary paths. Through a bibliometric analysis and knowledge graphs based on a large number of Chinese articles (8,735) in geographic journals from the database (CNKI), we concluded that Chinese Cybergeography is mainly encompassed in the fields of urban geography, economic geography, tourism geography, geographical information science, and other disciplines, and the main institutional contributors include the Nanjing University, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Resources of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, East China Normal University, Hebei Normal University. Chinese Cybergeography can be classified into five independent but interconnected sub-areas: (1) urban network analysis based on information flows; (2) online consumption behavior and their spatial impacts on urban space; (3) internet visibility and tourism flow; (4) smart cities and communities; and (5) digital economy and its interactions with spatial organizations. Chinese Cybergeography has experienced four phases: the embryonic stage during the initial 21st century, fast development period (2006-2013), flourishing period (2014-2019), and transition period (since the outbreak of COVID-19). Chinese Cybergeography has evidently become highly diversified and interdisciplinary through this period, with its research focus expanded from the early stages of "informatization level" and "regional differences" to hot topics, such as "flow space," "digital economy," and "smart city." Thereafter, we pointed out that Chinese Cybergeography has achieved fruitful achievements in the past 20 years and even has international leadership in some fields; however, compared with the rich and colorful theoretical establishments in the West, various problems and challenges are still present. For example, a relatively old-fashioned disciplinary thinking based on the absolute space concept currently exists, while limited attention has been paid to research on virtual societies and metaphor space, as well as the critical discourses on cultural and social consequences of digital transition. Furthermore, the big data method also tends to be overused in existing research, whereas the fieldwork-based approach has largely been neglected. Finally, we provide prospects for future research on Chinese Cybergeography by proposing that, in response to the digital and intelligent transformation in today's world, there is an urgent research agenda to establish China-characterized Cybergeography by incorporating Western establishments in theories and Chinese demands in practice. On the one hand, enriching the current research perspective is necessary by incorporating epistemologies from critical and humanistic geography. On the other hand, Chinese Cybergeography needs to keep up with the development and changes in social practices to continuously expand the research scope, such as focusing on the impacts of emerging digital technologies (such as artificial intelligence and metaverse) on urban and regional development. Therefore, Chinese Cybergeography can aid decision makers in promoting urban digital transformation, development of the digital economy, and coordinative development among different regions and cities.

Key words: Cybergeography, digital economy, bibliometric analysis, knowledge graph, China

CLC Number: 

  • F299.2