Rural market development is both a function of a place's location and its social and economic progress. Given the variations in socio-economic development, the rural market system differs from place to place. This is particularly the case with China, which is characterised by its extraordinary scale and local diversity. Yet Skinner's mid-1960s thesis on rural market structure is problematic in this regard. There is no doubt that Skinner's two models of market structure have broadened the geographical horizons of scholars by extending central place theory beyond the homogeneous plain. However, his understanding of spatial variations remains centred on topographical differences — a narrow perspective which has weakened the explanatory power of his models. Physical landscape and transport are not the only elements that create spatial variations. Moreover, in an attempt to establish a grand theory that can "apply anywhere in the world", Skinner (1965a, p.17) cuts off the connections between rural market development and the changing dynamics of political and socio-economic contexts over time. Accordingly, his theory fails to anticipate new factors, such as foreign investment and rural industrialisation, which have had significant impact on China's regional development during the era of economic reform. This is demonstrated in the following discussion.