Rural settlements in China have been experiencing unprecedented transformation since the economic reforms of the late 1970s. This paper examines population movement over the post-reform era and how this affects set- tlement patterns in an inland nonmetropolitan county-level city region with a well performing economy. It is found that the settlement size distribution in Gongyi is generally transforming from a traditional rural pattern to one that features an urban system, taking place in the form of “in situ urbanisation” and “rural urbanisation”. Without experiencing mass out-migration and in line with the transition of China’s political economy, Gongyi has developed its local urban system in parallel with the life and spatial cycles of city-based urbanisation in China. From the perspective of urbanisation cycles, “in situ urbanisation” underpinned by relevant socioeconomic and political conditions is argued to be both theoretically meaningful and practically useful in the context of the evolving settlement systems in China and less urbanised countries.
Keywords: Rural settlement, In situ urbanisation, Rural urbanisation, Nonmetropolitan region, China
Corresponding author: Xuefeng Wang, email@example.com