The China GIS Project (CGISP) was established by Dr. Crissman as a formal research activity in the Faculty of Asian and International Studies in 1989. By 1991, nearly $50,000 in funding and other support had been obtained, and enough progress had been made in vectorising the county-level (Xian and some Shi) administrative boundaries for what became Phase I of the Project that it could be used as the pilot project for the successful application for 1992-93 funding for SIIASA. Consequently, work on spatial data for the People's Republic of China has been the major ACASIAN activity and the CGISP has been the major beneficiary of the SIIASA Project funding. Because it was begun so early, before the DCW was available, the CGISP has vectorised its own 1:1m base map from a number of sources, but primarily from the 1:1,000,000 Land-use Map of China (LUMC), published by the Science Press in Beijing in 1990. A formal agreement governing copyright and distribution of the LUMC Spatial Data Bases produced by ACASIAN was reached with the publisher and the Institute of Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, which sponsored the Editorial Committee responsible for the production of the LUMC. Under that agreement, the LUMC Spatial Data Bases can be used for research and governmental purposes in Australia and the PRC. Further negotiations are underway concerning its distribution and use, including commercial applications, elsewhere in the world.

Phase II of the CGISP, conducted during 1992-93, involved vectorising and edge-matching the complete hydrology from the sixty-four LUMC sheets, as well as the roads, rails, and all of the approximately 7,000 cities, towns, and other settlements. The administrative boundaries, derived to match the 1982 census in Phase I, were up-dated to the 1990 census and the temporal dimension to the administrative boundary database was designed and implemented, allowing spatial data for any date from 1980 to (presently) 1994 to be generated to match any available attribute data set.

Phase III, conducted in 1994-95, has seen the completion of the vectorisation and edge-matching of the hundreds of thousands of land-use polygons on the LUMC. Elaborate coding of the hydrological system throughout China (three or four times as dense on the LUMC as in the DCW), which differentiates small sub-subbasins and captures their topology as well as calculating stream orders, has been developed and is being implemented.

Phase III of the CGISP has also involved the vectorisation of the Language Atlas of China under copyright permission from the publisher, Longman Group (Far East), and the Australian Academy of the Humanities, which funded the cartographic work done at the ANU. Copyright clearance to vectorise the Atlas of Chinese Postal Codes has also been obtained from the Harbin Cartographic Publishing House, which will greatly aid in the geo- referencing of the 12,800 or so rural towns (zhen) included in the 1990 census returns and will ultimately yield a database containing at least 50,000 geo-referenced postal codes for rural township seats and urban districts. Township (zhen and xiang) administrative boundary data bases are being produced for a number of Provinces and regions, as well as Urban District (Shixiaqu) data for the largest cities. Spatial data and codes for county-level units going back to 1949 are also being developed, and the historical span of this spatio-temporal administrative database will eventually extend back to 1911 at least and probably to 1820.

The elaborate and intricate spatial data covering the whole of the PRC generated for the China GIS Project at ACASIAN represent a major research resource that can support research on a vast array of spatially distributed variables. In addition to the obvious demographic research based on sequential census returns, and the work that will utilise the land-use materials for research on economic and agricultural matters, the LUMC Spatial Data will enable a wide range of environmental and health related research that would otherwise be impossible to conduct.

An update of the China GIS Project is available.

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