Livable China


Recently, the McKinsey Global Institute published its report 'The Most Dynamic Cities in 2025' in Foreign Policy, a highly respected US journal. On this list, 27 mainland Chinese cities as well as Hong Kong took top spots alongside Shanghai and Beijing, leaving many other world-renowned metropolises far behind.

As a Chinese who has lived through China's transformation over the past two decades, I was hardly surprised by the results of this report. What really shocked me was the doubt and controversy that this report generated in western media, especially the negativity in the heated discussions published in the very same issue of Foreign Policy.  read more »

China's French Connection

High Speed Rail Station; Zhuzhou China.jpg

No two countries would appear more divergent than France and China, especially in the age of Eurozone collapse. One country represents the Asian future, while the other is the capital of the failed, if diverting, old world.

The French recently elected a socialist president and assembly on the basis that everyone should share the country’s deficits and decline. The Chinese, meanwhile, have enough surpluses to buy out the European Union, should they wish to exchange their EU debts for an equity stake. (Maybe they will choose to have Paris shipped east in boxes?)  read more »

China and the Future of Hong Kong


Last week Hong Kong’s new leader Leung Chun-ying was sworn into office by Chinese President Hu Jintao. The ceremony coincided with the 15th anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to China so there was plenty of rhetoric about ‘strengthening ties with the motherland’.  read more »

The Beijing Bicycle: A Requiem

Raven on a Beijing Bike; Stevenson.png

Just because China has 500 million bikes on the road or tucked away in sheds or courtyards does not mean the two-wheeler has a bright future there, especially in its largest cities.

Such is the growing indifference to the bike in China that no one seems to mind that the national model is manufactured in Taiwan (or under license on the mainland). With a single gear and heavy steel frame, the Giant is ideal for long rides on flat city streets. At a cost of US $180, it is the bike bargain of the world. Nevertheless, the dream for younger Chinese is a Honda scooter.  read more »

China's Top Growth Centers


Hefei, the capital of historically poor Anhui province emerged as China's top growth center among major metropolitan areas over the past 10 years. Metropolitan areas from the interior, the Yangtze Delta and the central and northern coast were the fastest growing, displacing Guangdong's Pearl River Delta, long the growth center for the country.   (Figure 1).

China's Trends in Context: China's growth rate has fallen substantially and the United Nations has projected that the nation will experience population decline starting between 2030 and 2035.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Shenzhen


No urban area in history has become so large so quickly than Shenzhen (Note 1). A little more than a fishing village in 1979, by the 2010 census Shenzhen registered 10.4 million inhabitants. It is easily the youngest urban area to have become one of the world's 26 megacities (Figure 1). Most other megacities were the largest urban areas in their nations for centuries (such as London and Paris) and a few for more than a millennium (such as Istanbul and Beijing).  read more »

World Urban Areas Population and Density: A 2012 Update


The latest edition of Demographia World Urban Areas has just been released. The publication includes population estimates, urban land area estimates and urban densities for all nearly 850 identified urban areas in the world with a population of 500,000 or more. These urban areas account for approximately 48% of the world's urban population. Overall, data is provided for approximately 1500 urban areas, comprising approximately 1.9 billion people, or 52% of the world's urban population.  read more »

Understanding Chongqing and the Fall of Bo Xilai


The demise of Bo Xilai, the former Party Secretary of Chongqing, has turned into one of the biggest political scandals in China in recent memory and now includes allegations that Bo’s wife Gu Kailai is connected to the murder of a British businessman close to Bo’s family. It is even rumored the businessman, Neil Heywood, may have had an affair with Gu.  read more »

How A Baby Bust Will Turn Asia's Tigers Toothless


For the last two decades, America’s pundit class has been looking for models to correct our numerous national deficiencies. Some of the more deluded have settled on Europe, which, given its persistent low economic growth over the past 20 years and minuscule birth rates, amounts to something like looking for love in all the wrong places.  read more »

What Apple’s Supply Chain Says About US Manufacturing and Middle-Skill Training


In January, The New York Times released a front-page report on the iEconomy, Apple’s vast and rapidly growing empire built on the production of tech devices almost exclusively overseas. The fascinating story created a wave of attention when it was published, and it’s back in the news after NPR’s “This American Life” retracted its story about working conditions at Foxconn, one of Apple’s key suppliers of iPhones and iPads.  read more »