China's Second-Tier Cities: Sichuan Rises

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Recent media attention has focused on a slowdown in China. The actual state of play in China that should be watched, though, is rather different. While residents of first and second-tier cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen can still be seen holding Louis Vuitton bags and iPhones, a significantly larger, yet less individually affluent, market has begun to rise within the country. It is within this terrain of lower-tier cities that China’s breakneck growth is now being demonstrated.  read more »


Decline Of The Asian Family: Drop In Births Threatens Economic Ascendancy


In the last half century, East Asia emerged as the uber-performer on the global economic stage. The various countries in the region found success with substantially different systems: state-led capitalism in South Korea, Singapore and Japan; wild and wooly, competitive, entrepreneur-led growth in Taiwan and Hong Kong; and more recently, what Deng Xiaoping once described as “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”  read more »

The Braking Of The BRICs


For over a decade, conventional wisdom has held that the future of the world economy rests on the rise of the so-called BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China (and, in some cases, with the addition of an ‘S’ for South Africa).  read more »

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

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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

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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 »