China’s Emerging Megalopolises
If strength is in numbers, Chinese metropolises are a force to be reckoned with. According to management consultancy firm McKinsey, by 2025 China will have 221 cities with a population of more than a million. Currently, there are 160 cities in China boasting this figure, in contrast with just 35 in Europe.
This has led many to look beyond the most common Chinese cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, in search of the country’s next rising star as both a touristic destination and investment opportunity. In light of this, Gloobbi has picked three top emerging cities that may cause radical changes in China’s key city landscapes:
1. CHENGDU. From May of this year, Chengdu will be served by a direct 10 hour Air China flight from Frankfurt, and from September a 10 hour and 25 minutes British Airways flight from London, meaning its flourishing business and tourist industry is only set to grow throughout this year, as direct access to the city will help boast its local economy.
Chengdu is fast becoming one of the favorite cities for investment in western China with an impressive record of 133 of the world’s 500 largest companies having had subsidiaries or branch offices in the city, including Intel, Sony and Toyota.
Culturally the city has a rich history, much being based around cuisine and tea, leading UNESCO to recognise it as a City of Gastronomy in 2010. “Sunny days are rare, but teahouses are abundant,” says an old Chengdu proverb.
Teahouses have formed an integral part of the city’s identity, fulfilling much of the community’s needs from playing the role of unofficial court house to providing a setting to do business in.
2. XI’AN. Located on the northwestern Shaanxi province, Xi’an has technically long since been a main player in China’s economic regeneration, with its renowned facilities for research and development and national security and its base for China’s space exploration programs.
Xi’an’s national importance was reaffirmed in 2012 when it was named by the Economist Intelligence Unit as one of the thirteen most vital emerging metropolises in China. Xi’an is a modern city of ancient grounding.
It is sitting on the crossroad of the beginning and the end of the Silk Road. The city is a nostalgic reminder of this, as the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and his famous Terracotta Army, located in a suburb to the east of the city, acts as a beacon to its glorious past.
3. KUNMING. Southwestern Kunming’s strength lies in its wealth of natural resources, mild climate and strong local consumer market. Despite missing out on the country’s economic boom of the 1990s, in more recent years the city has been recognised as a commercial hub for South and Southeast Asia due to its participation in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), promoting trade throughout China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore.
These regional trade links have been improved by the recent opening of Kunming Changshui International airport in 2012, providing a gateway to Vietnam and Laos. According to the Chinese government, the transport hub is set to be mainland China’s fourth biggest airport after Shanghai-Pudong, Beijing and Guangzhou.
This new influx of wealth and investment activities has resulted in larger developments of luxury hotels and high-rise buildings, which experts predicted it is simply the beginning of the deluge for a new wealthy class in the city.
by Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn
Image: Photo in Xi’an