Investigation of the spatial transfer laws and dynamic mechanisms of pollution-intensive industries (PIIs) is becoming a popular field in regional sustainable development. Based on the statistical data of 30 provinces (cities and districts) in China from 2000 to 2017, this paper applied the Gini coefficient and a redistribution index as well as spatial econometric approaches to explore the spatial distribution characteristics and spatial effects of China’s PIIs. PIIs in China have experienced two transition stages: ‘from north to south’ and ‘from east to central and west’, and the spatial distribution imbalance of PIIs has been gradually improved. In terms of industries, all PIIs in the northeast region were removed; PIIs in the eastern region not only transferred outward but also have experienced an agglomeration effect. The central and western regions were the main areas where transferring PIIs were settling. The distribution of PIIs in China showed a strong spatial correlation and a relatively stable path dependence. Through use of the spatial Dubin model, it is concluded that command-and-control environmental regulation and transportation costs had a negative impact on the distribution of PIIs in this region and a positive impact on the surrounding regions; thus, the pollution haven hypothesis was supported. Resource factors, technological innovation levels, and industrial structure—whether direct or indirect—had an inhibitory effect on the distribution of PII. Capital factors not only promoted the development of PIIs in this region, but also promoted it in other regions. Agglomeration economics had a positive impact on the distribution of PIIs in this region, and a negative impact on the surrounding regions.
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