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Researchers Pushing for Even Bigger Chinese Cities

Research suggests China’s current urbanization policy forgoes $2 trillion in growth over the next ten years. That is, unless the government funnels even more migrants into major population centers and develops for density.
October 24, 2014, 2pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Top Chinese economists have joined the chorus supporting dense urban development. Current Beijing policy, they argue, hasn’t done enough to grow the most populous cities. The prevailing policy seeks to limit overcrowding and environmental impacts in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen by funneling migrants into smaller cities, generating sprawl.

Proponents of the Chinese mega-city want to build up rather than out, citing the higher economic efficiencies of cities like Tokyo and Seoul. From the article: “An additional 4.2 million people can be added to Guangzhou and 5.3 million to Shenzhen if those cities had the same population density as Seoul, according to a March report by the World Bank and the State Council’s Development Research Center.”

The key to making these densities work is upgraded urban infrastructure, transportation in particular. By focusing on dense development instead of sprawl, China could save “$1.4 trillion from a projected $5.3 trillion in infrastructure-spending needs during the next 15 years.” This money could then go into mass transit and other density-friendly techniques, remedying China’s infamous smog problem in the process.

Despite these calls, Beijing seems poised to uphold limits on mega-city growth.

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, October 19, 2014 in Bloomberg News
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