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November 27, 2007

Richard Florida

Rise of China's Cities

« Urbanophobia | Main | The Divider »


Over at The Prospect, Rob Gifford writes (via New Economist):

In the US, there are nine cities with more than 1m inhabitants. In China, there are 49. You can be travelling across China, arrive in a city that is twice the size of Houston, and think: I've never even heard of this place. ... The new Route 312—which runs all the way from Shanghai to the western border with Kazakhstan—is part of the change, dramatically cutting the journey time for people and goods going to Nanjing, Shanghai and the coast. The spread inland of factories and companies in search of lower costs has helped too, as have remittances from migrants working near the coast. This growing wealth is in turn changing some of the patterns of inland migration. Shanghai is still the promised land for migrant peasants, but there are now more mini-promised lands: regional capitals such as Hefei, or other cities further inland, such as Xi'an and Lanzhou, to which people are travelling to find work because there is now work there. For the first time, some factories on the coast have a labour shortage, and one reason is that people can now find jobs (albeit not so well paid) in China's interior. This emergence of the inland cities is actually a re-emergence. The countryside has always been poor. But for centuries Chinese cities were far more prosperous than their counterparts elsewhere in the world. The government is doing everything to encourage it. ... Either way, the party in Hefei, as throughout China, knows that the market economy could be its salvation; the party also knows that the inequalities thrown up by the new economy could be its downfall.


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