AbstractThis paper tests China’s three-dimensional intergovernmental competition in terms of land leasing. Using the land-leasing data of China’s prefecture-level cities from 2003 to 2019 collected from China Land Market, and with the help of the dynamic spatial Durbin model, we show that in the land-leasing behavior of prefecture-level cities in China, three-dimensional government competition does exist and that the influence coefficient from high to low is the government competition of different periods in the same region, shown as horizontal government competition and vertical government competition, respectively. In particular, China’s government competition and regional economic development show a clear correlation. We find obvious heterogeneity: in the eastern region, the government competition for land leasing started earlier and has now begun to transform. However, the three-dimensional government competition in the western region lags behind the national level. Therefore, urban development should emerge from the mindset of blindly focusing on the expansion of urban areas, paying more attention to the guiding role of urban planning in urban development and promoting cities on the path of sustainable development by improving the efficiency of land use.