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Keywords:

  • competitiveness;
  • benchmarking;
  • knowledge;
  • dynamic comparative advantage;
  • innovation;
  • growth;
  • regions;
  • China

Abstract

China's spectacular economic growth has been spatially uneven, with much development occurring in eastern coastal areas. In particular, three metropolitan ‘super-regions’ have become China's most competitive knowledge-based economies, consisting of the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Bohai Gulf Region. This paper benchmarks the competitiveness of these regions, with a view to exploring which region is best positioned to become the most dominant knowledge-based economy over time. Through the theoretical lens of dynamic comparative advantage, it is shown that each region has hugely increased its competitiveness through improvements in the capacity to absorb and diffuse knowledge. It is further shown that due to multi-dimensional advantages the Yangtze River Delta, incorporating the Shanghai metropolis, is best positioned to become the dominant hub of China's future knowledge economy. It is concluded that China's leading regions will require further economic policy adjustments in order to secure their future competitiveness.