China has experienced an extraordinary level of economic development since the 1990s, following excessive competition between different regions. This has resulted in many resource and environmental problems. Land resources, for example, are either abused or wasted in many regions. The strategy of development priority zoning (DPZ), proposed by the Chinese National 11th Five-Year Plan, provides an opportunity to solve these problems by coordinating regional development and protection. In line with the rational utilization of land, it is proposed that the DPZ strategy should be integrated with regional land use policy.As there has been little research to date on this issue, this paper introduces a system dynamic (SD) model for assessing land use change in China led by the DPZ strategy. Land use is characterized by the prioritisation of land development, land utilization, land harness and land protection (D-U-H-P). By using the Delphi method, a corresponding suitable prioritisation of D-U-H-P for the four types of development priority zones, including optimized development zones (ODZ), key development zones (KDZ), restricted development zones (RDZ), and forbidden development zones (FDZ) are identified. Suichang County is used as a case study in which to conduct the simulation of land use change under the RDZ strategy.The findings enable a conceptualization of DPZ-led land use change and the identification of further implications for land use planning generally. The SD model also provides a potential tool for local government to combine DPZ strategy at the national level with land use planning at the local level.