Qingdao stands a good chance for building a national central city
Photo 1: An aerial view of Shenzhen, Guangdong
Photo 2: Qingdao
Photo 3: The design photo of Beijing New
Chinese, the coastal city of Shenzhen is nothing short of a miracle.
It was just a small and poor fishing
village until 1980, when the central government hand-picked it as China's first
special economic zone and offered advantageous economic policies to it. In only
three decades, the village evolved into a modern metropolis with a rocketing
economy and unceasing innovation.
Now those Chinese cities dreaming to
copy Shenzhen's success by obtaining accelerators from national strategies are
finding a good opportunity in the country's new urbanization blueprint.
National central city
During this year's two sessions, which
concluded last week, many national lawmakers and political advisers advocated
for cities in their constituencies to be built into one of the so-called
national central cities.
The term was first coined by the
Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) in 2005 as part of a
plan to steer the country's urbanization process. A national central city
refers to a city designed to serve functions such as leadership and influence,
as well as centralization and distribution in terms of politics, economy and culture.
These cities' interest in the title was
no secret. For example, the mayor of Qingdao, Shandong province, reportedly
suggested the province "create more conditions to support Qingdao in
building a national central city". On the other hand, the mayor of Jinan,
the capital city of Shandong, called on provincial support for the city to
apply for the title, after Zhengzhou, capital city of Henan province,
successfully secured one.
As local officials trying to muster more
effort for the competition, China Economic Weekly, a
magazine owned by People's Daily, revealed
that the total number of national central cities is likely to be fixed at 12.
In the National Urban System Plan composed by the MOHURD in 2010, the
government vowed to build 10 global and national central cities, 100 cities
with characteristics and 1,000 small and medium-sized cities, as well as 10,000
counties with characteristics.
According to an expert who has participated in the compiling
work, the number in the plan was just hypothetical, not the final decision,
China Economic Weekly reported.
"The selection of
national central cities is not based on numbers, but the functions of cities,"
the expert said.
According to the report,
the revised National Urban System Plan has been completed and submitted to
The expert said the number
is likely to be 12 with Beijing and Shanghai as both global cities and national
central cities and another 10 as national central cities. Moreover, Hong Kong
will also be functioning as a global city but not included in the plan due to
the "One Country, Two Systems" policy.
Benefits behind the title
At present, a total of
eight cities have made it to the list, namely Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai,
Guangzhou in Guangdong province, Chongqing, Chengdu in Sichuan province, Wuhan
in Hubei province and Zhengzhou in Henan province.
The competition is boosted
by the huge benefits the strategy brings.
To be recognized as a
national central city means that the city's potential, advantages and prospects
for future development are identified by the country, which guarantees them a
first-mover advantage to their peers outside the list.
Moreover, national central
cities will have a better chance in wining over functional projects, such as
airport economic areas and Free Trade Zones.
The report said the final
list will not be determined by numbers or the applications by cities. There is
a series of indicators to assess the candidates comprehensively such as
economy, innovation, internationalization and transportation. Some specific indexes,
such as the number of Fortune Global 500 and FTZs, as well as exhibition
centers, will be considered.
So who are the most
promising candidates for the remaining places?
In the National
Plan on New Urbanization (2014- 2020) published in 2014, China is expected
to build seven city clusters nationwide. Ideally, within each cluster, cities
will be complementary to each other, which will fuel the development of big
cities and bring opportunities to small cities and counties.
The confirmed national
central cities are all in the city clusters and play significant roles in the
Judging geographically, it
looks like cities from China's Northeast and Northwest are missing from the
list, which makes Shenyang in Liaoning province and Xi'an in Shaanxi province
promising contenders, backed by their vast area, strong industrial basis and
great regional influence. However, there also are experts betting on Hangzhou
in Zhejiang province and Nanjing in Jiangsu province. Qingdao in Shandong
province also stands a good chance since the province has a population of
nearly 100 million.