Tropical Geography ›› 2020, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (4): 604-611.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003256

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Inherent Logic for Municipal Functionality and Positionality Change and Their Methods of Implementation: A Case Study of Hangzhou

Jigang Bao1(), Zi'ang Zhang2, Mingya Qu2   

  1. 1.School of Tourism Management, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2.School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2019-10-29 Revised:2020-06-02 Online:2020-07-31 Published:2020-08-11


Since the beginning of the 21st century, informationization and globalization have greatly impacted the development of cities. This was not the rapid growth of all cities within the national urban system, but the development of certain key cities linked to the process of globalization. In other words, the functions undertaken by cities determined their future development potential and status. The topic of “first-tier cities” is presently being debated in all sectors of society. Several media and research institutions have been racing to release series of rankings such as “new first-tier cities” and “quasi-first-tier cities,” in an attempt to continually re-rank the major cities in China. Behind such public opinion is a comprehensive consideration of the functions of a city, with an empirical understanding of its development potential and status. However, although different evaluation indexes directly affect the score of a city, there is currently no set or recognized system by which to conduct the evaluation of a city. This study explores the mechanism that influences urban status via a “theory to empirical” approach. By sorting the research on cities globally, this study extracted the internal logic by which urban functions drive the change in the status of big cities and constructed a role model for “strategic function–basic function-city status.” This study suggests that the functions of international cities can be classified as strategic and basic, of which the former is the fundamental force driving the status changes of big cities. Big cities play the role of a control center in national economies and regional layouts and can create a regional influence in areas including economic, financial, political, trade, information, and scientific innovation functions. The basic function of such a city is an important external manifestation of its strategic function and guarantee of the maintenance and betterment thereof. Big cities play the role of a hub and node, that can provide highly modernized infrastructure and international service functions that will simultaneously and indirectly impact the effect of their strategic functions and the transformation of their status. Using this logical framework, this study demonstrates the path by which the urban status of Hangzhou is being upgraded, identifies the functioning of a digital economy as the strategic function of this city, confirms the rapid development of the former and the promotion of the urban status of the latter, and responds to public opinion that Hangzhou is now a “first-tier city.” By introducing the concept and characteristics of strategic functions, this study highlights and emphasizes the importance for the rapid development and status upgradation of big cities in China. The development of such cities need to judge other cities worldwide, based on their own advantages. With a leading edge such cities can join the globalized system, conform to the scientific and strategic function of global development trends in a reasonable way, and stand out from others. Furthermore, with new “city business card”, such cities can enter the fast lane of benign development.

Key words: municipal functionality, city positionality, digital economy, Hangzhou

CLC Number: 

  • F592