The paper offers an updated picture of the policies implemented by the government of the Guangdong Province (China) to foster the industrial development and the technological upgrading of its territories. Among these policies is the promotion and the institutional acknowledgement of a growing number of industrial clusters, defined as “specialized towns”, characterized by a high spatial concentration of firms producing one specific item (or a limited range of similar products). In the view of the provincial and local governments these types of industrial development programs are used to increase firms agglomerations, spatial concentration and visibility, which in turn leads to increased specialization, industrial output, innovation and economic growth. However, little specific empirical evidence has been collected to support this view and the debate, at the national and international level, on the effectiveness of such interventions seems to be still largely ideological. The paper offers a contribution in this sense by offering a detailed description of the policy tools, by suggesting synthetic indexes to quantify policy efforts and industrial performances in Guangdong territories and by providing a first statistical analysis of these indexes
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