The Mega Capital of the World

<p>China is rapidly becoming home to more and more mega-cities, and there's little sign of it slowing down.</p>
August 7, 2008, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"The mega-city -- usually defined as a city with a population of 10 million or more -- isn't a new phenomenon, or one that China invented. Yet urbanists are looking to China (where Shanghai and Beijing are already mega-cities, and at least a dozen others are huge, if not "mega") to find the capital of the 21st century, rather like Paris was the capital of the 19th, and New York the capital of the 20th. And these urbanists (the profession that studies urban trends and design with varying degrees of academic legitimacy) are fascinated by Chinese cities, horrified by them, desperate to steer them away from environmental disaster and growing social anomie. Animating all this concern is a basic fact: The Chinese mega city isn't there yet. It is still growing. A migration unlike anything the world has ever seen is in progress, with hundreds of millions of rural Chinese flocking to cities."

"The statistics are overwhelming. If China continues to urbanize, if it reaches levels comparable to the United States (around 80 percent urban), there could be a billion people living in its cities sometime in the not-so-distant future. Conservative, near-term estimates suggest that 200 million to 300 million people will leave traditional rural and village life for the economic opportunities of China's exploding urban areas over the next two decades."

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Published on Monday, August 4, 2008 in The Washington Post
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