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China's second cities - the new kids on the block

With a population of over 1.3 billion, it's not surprising that there are some sizeable Chinese metropolises with unfamiliar names.

 

There's no doubt that there's a massive influx to the cities in China. Sources within China say that, over the past four decades, urbanisation has increased from less than 20% to almost 50%, the biggest ever shift in human history. Growth in the four biggest Chinese cities, the eastern population centres of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, hit 12% in 2009, two percentage points above the decade-long average. Even those figures are dwarfed by the transformation in many so-called second tier cities, with the three provincial capitals of Changchun, Yinchuan and Hefei growing at more than 18.5% - making them the fastest growing cities in China.

It's not spontaneous. In common with almost all aspects of Chinese culture, it's a centrally planned effort to balance out the overheating megacities, and spur on their provincial cousins. According to a report in The Straits Times, the Chinese government's efforts to stimulate regional economies and speed up development of China's inland areas have been good news for cities like that rapidly expanding triumvirate. Meanwhile, places further inland, like Yinchuan, Chongqing and Chengdu have been given an additional boost by the government's Go West campaign. Many relatively smaller cities are also benefiting from multinational companies shifting their operations from first-tier cities to cheaper locations like Tianjin.

Young, well-qualified workers are increasingly starting to be attracted to these outposts in the hinterland, and businesses can take advantage of a motivated and eager workforce. Frustrated with air pollution, traffic jams and unaffordable homes they are accepting smaller pay packages for a better quality of life with fresher air, and bigger apartments.

'We used to think that because China had so many people, the talent would have to follow the capital,' said Professor Tu Qiyu, urban studies expert at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Speaking to The Straits Times, he observed that, as China becomes capital-abundant, we are seeing the reverse. "Capital is following talent. That is why it is important for these cities that young white-collar workers are choosing them".

With staggering economic growth potential, and government incentives encouraging the development of China, it clearly pays to have an up to date atlas of the Chinese provinces.

Source: globalconnections



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