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Abstract

In the last fifty years Chinese spatial inequalities have expanded in phases of industrial expansion and contracted in phases favourable to agriculture. Since 1985 real per capita disposable income and real per capita expenditure have increased rapidly in all parts of China. The increases were however much greater (i) in areas on the east coast than in the centre, northeast and west creating widening macro-territorial inequalities, (ii) in some provinces rather than others increasing inter-provincial inequalities and (iii) in urban areas rather than rural areas. These imbalances have seen the adoption of a succession of policies designed initially to promote a more equilibrated model of co-ordinated national development and more recently a more sustainable and more equitable development path consistent with the more recent emphasis on the goal of harmonious development. This paper examines the evolution and impact of these trends in inequality and policy initiatives paying attention to a variety of geographical scales.