On December 18, 2013, Yi Peng, Director of the International Financial Seminar Urbanization Research Center hosted an online webinar to answer questions about China’s urbanization policies. During the webinar, Yi Peng pointed out that even though three of the biggest cities in China, which include Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, have accumulated very large populations, they are going to attract even more people in the near future. In order to solve the problems associated with high population density in these cities, China needs to develop a stronger city group to shrink the gap of comparative advantage between the first-tier cities and the second and third-tier cities. On the other hand, even while carrying large populations, Beijing and Shanghai can still increase their livability with sound city management strategies.


According to Yi Peng, the major concerns of most Chinese are income and opportunities, but not smog and traffic congestion. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are able to attract so many people because they provide more income and job opportunities, as well as better public services compared with other cities. This situation is a result of the Chinese government’s beneficial policies, which allocate more resources to these cities and provide a more favorable environment for economic development. The widening gap between the first-tier and second, third, and fourth-tier cities has pushed huge population, capital, enterprise, and industries growth into the first-tier cities.

Yi Peng said that the major strategy to solve this problem is to develop city groups in western, central, and northeastern China, so that the gap will be diminished between the first-tier cities and the less developed cities, such as Wuhan, Xi’an, Zhengzhou, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, and Dalian.


Yi Peng also pointed out that practically speaking, it would be hard for these cities to catch up with the first-tier cities in the short run, and that the populations of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are going to continue to increase. In order to alleviate the problems associated with high population concentration, these big cities need to improve their city management. By applying sound planning, green energy, and energy saving strategies, these cities can increase their carrying capacities.

What do you think would be the best strategies to shrink the gap between the first-tier and other cities in China?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

The original article, published in Chinese, can be found here.