This dissertation studies local autonomy levels of leading global/world cities (GWC) in major developing economies. Four cities in three countries are selected: Shanghai and Guangzhou, China; Mumbai, India; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. These countries are either of significant size or occupy unique positions in the world’s shifting economic landscape. They embarked on economic liberalization and started to actively integrate into global economy at least since the early 1990s, when the observation starts. During this period, their national economies integrated into global economy to different extents, strengthening their comprehensive national power while shifting the world’s economic center of gravity. In this process, the four cities not only acted as leading GWCs critical to their national economies, but also as important nodes in the world GWC network, articulating their national economy with world economy. Against similar domestic and international backgrounds, however, the four cities’ local autonomy level have changed very differently through more than two decades. This research investigates causes for this puzzle. GWCs need territorial states to fully function, while territorial states (especially less-developed ones) tend to use GWCs as a tool for attracting investment, accumulate resources, and strengthen national power. This is the mutuality between the territorial state and the GWC. On the other hand, as a GWC becomes more global, it faces conditions and generates demands quite different from ordinary cities. The territorial state also needs to ensure a balanced development across the country, rather than spoiling certain cities. This generates contradictions between the two parties. The level of local autonomy is a settlement on power allocation between the central (territorial state) and the local (GWCs) levels of government. Whether a GWC gets more or less local autonomy is determined by whether mutuality or contradiction between the territorial state and the GWC prevails. Three sets of relations are identified, each generating one independent variable and a corresponding hypothesis. First, between global economy and the territorial state (IV-1: the GWC’s national economy’s global integration); second, between global economy and a certain GWC in a territorial state (IV-2: inter-city competition in a GWC’s neighborhood); third, the GWC’s position inside its own territorial state (IV-3: how concentrated in a GWC a territorial state’s foreign economic activities are). The three hypotheses are therefore: a) the more globally integrated a national economy is, its leading GWC would enjoy greater local autonomy; b) the more intense competition a GWC faces from its neighbors, this city is more likely to get greater local autonomy; c) if a territorial state’s foreign economic activities are more concentrated in a GWC, this city would enjoy greater local autonomy. Using a most-similar research design, this dissertation produces three findings: first, global integration of national economy does not have a strong relation with a GWC’s local autonomy level. It may need to pass a certain limit before it starts to make an effect. Otherwise, it has limited impact. Specifically, FDI flow, especially outflow, are of higher relevance than goods and service flows. Neither mutuality or contradiction between the territorial state and the GWC clearly prevails. The relation is an intricate one. Second, competition among neighboring GWCs are omnipresent, but at different intensities. More intense competitions usually lead to a higher likelihood of power transition from the territorial state to its leading GWC. This confirms mainstream GWC scholarship’s claims on intercity competitions. The territorial state and the GWC find a mutuality in helping the GWC win the competition. However, if a GWC is situated in a highly integrated city-region, the response to competition would be different. Third, if a territorial state’s foreign economic activities are more concentrated in a GWC, it would transit more power to that GWC, because doing so benefits the overall national growth and development. But the territorial state should take caution not to excessively invest in a single GWC, in order to avoid an overly unbalanced national urban system. Altogether, emerging developing countries tend to use their leading GWCs as a tool for national growth. They usually find more mutuality than contradictions with its home-grown GWCs. In fostering their champion cities, developing countries expect their national economy to benefit as a whole. The extent of such dynamics depends on how the territorial state and its GWC are situated globally, and how are they situated vis-à-vis each other. This research aims at contributing to the political aspect of GWC formation, especially GWCs in countries that are more dynamically integrating into world economy. By studying cases from three important developing economies, it brings new insights into the territorial state’s response to globalization with regard to its home-grown GWCs, as well as GWCs’ reactions to their situations in the global city network, and whether and under what circumstance that leads to power transition to the local level.