Writing for What Matters, Jonathan Woetzel argues that the future of China's cities will be less grim if they build up not out.
"If China were to encourage the growth of hub-and-spoke clusters, or even megacities with denser populations and more concentrated urban footprints, the average height of buildings could double but the burden on China's resources would diminish as cities built up, not out. Vertical development would take pressure off the land, ensure that investments were closer to the market, and be significantly more resource-efficient. In the megacity scenario, by 2025 40% of China's urban population could live in megacities with over 20 million residents. Nationally, China would construct over 4000 high-rises a year, creating a unique and vertical society. And the concentration of resources around centers of excellence in urbanization would lead to a higher quality of investment. This, combined with policies aimed at moving resources away from heavy industry and towards the services sector, would drive a healthier, more consumption-oriented and employment-friendly economy and society."