Regional disparities in China's marine economy
Understanding the performance of each coastal area as it develops is the primary task of policy-makers in a marine economy; however, quantitative regional differences in China's marine economy have not been empirically examined. This paper offers a methodological contribution by applying a series of techniques, including the variation coefficient, Gini coefficient, and Theil index decomposition, to illustrate the relative differences among coastal areas. Additionally, the coastal areas of China were divided into two categories to reveal the provincial differences and regional disparities in China's marine economy. The results show that although the numerical economic differences in Gross Ocean Product (GOP) among coastal areas have increased significantly during the 21st century, the gaps among coastal regions have gradually decreased. In addition, China's marine economy presents three levels of regional development (developed, medium-developed, and developing). The results of the Theil index decomposition show that the overall difference in China's marine economy is derived mainly from differences within the three macro marine economic regions; these differences account for more than 95% of the overall difference. Furthermore, the underlying reasons for and driving mechanism of regional differences in China's marine economy can be illuminated in terms of differences in natural resource endowments and geographic locations; industrial agglomeration and diffusion; changes in regional development policy; and foreign investment. These findings offer basic data support and policy recommendations for marine economy management at the national and regional levels.