Resource-based cities face unique challenges when undergoing urban transitions because their non-renewable resources will eventually be exhausted. In this article, we introduce a new method of evaluating the urban transition performance of resource-based cities from economic, social and eco-environmental perspectives. A total of 19 resource-based cities in Northeast China are studied from 2003 to 2012. The results show that resource-based cities in Jilin and Liaoning provinces performed better than those in Heilongjiang province. Liaoyuan, Songyuan and Baishan were ranked as the top three resource-based cities; and Jixi, Yichun and Heihe were ranked last. Multi-resource and petroleum resource-based cities performed better than coal and forestry resource-based cities. We also analyzed the factors influencing urban transition performance using the method of the geographic detector. We found that capital input, road density and location advantage had the greatest effects on urban transition performance, followed by urban scale, remaining resources and the level of sustainable development; supporting policies and labor input had the smallest effects. Based on these insights, we have formulated several recommendations to facilitate urban transitions in China’s resource-based cities.
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