I don’t need to tell you that, in 1980, China looked very different to the way it does today. It was basically an agricultural society, 80% of the population lived on the land and many of today’s cities were just small rural villages. But, as you can from this infographic. “Meet China’s 113 Cities With More Than One Million People“, this has all changed in just the last 30 years, with half a billion people moving from the countryside to an urban centre, a rural-to-urban migration story which has no parallel in modern history.
China’s longer term plan is to be nearly 80% urbanised (now just over 50%) which means that the future demand for commodities (cement, aluminium, coal etc.) seems assured, and soon we will marvel at the number of mega-cities (population of 10 million or more) currently standing at six (Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Chengdu) with another three on the way. The 9 cities that make up the Pearl River Delta are already being merged as part of the Greater Bay Area infrastructure plan to become a “continuous entity containing up to 50 million people” which will undoubtedly be “the largest unified urban area in human history”.
Of course, whilst urbanisation has a positive effect on GDP growth (urban growth alone produces an increase of 20% GDP per capita, increases rural productivity, boosts demand for resources, commodities and energy, and drives domestic consumption) it also creates new challenges, as we’re witnessing with the spread of the Coronavirus which started in one of China’s most populated cities, Wuhan (population 8.4 million as per the infographic, but over 11m according to the media) and has quickly spread to its neighbours and the rest of the country.