Beijing is '30 years behind New York'

By Cang Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-04-26 15:11
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Beijing is in the second stage of becoming a global city - yet it is still about 30 years behind the likes of New York, London and Tokyo, say experts at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences.

In its new blue book on urban and rural development, the institution makes this conclusion based on four factors: economy, culture, society and city development, with each having 24 indicators.

The Chinese capital scored an average of 34.9 in the assessment, based on data from the Beijing Bureau of Statistics. However, cities like those in the United States, Britain and Japan averaged 66.

"There are huge gaps ... between Beijing and cities like New York, London and Tokyo," said Bai Zhigang, director of the academy's foreign studies institute and one of the co-authors of the report.

"The city needs to improve, especially in social and economic areas. Social security standards in Beijing are low and the wealth gap is widening," he said. The gap in average salaries widened from 26,818 yuan in 2006 to 39,087 in 2009, according to the blue book.

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Comparing available statistics for Beijing with New York, researchers found that although the average annual household disposable income in Beijing was $9,099 in 2009, it was already $25,000 in New York by 2000. The Chinese capital also has just 25 public libraries, less than one-tenth the number in the Big Apple.

Beijing is expected to enter the third stage of its development and become a major global city in 2050, the blue book adds. The first stage ran from the reform and opening up of 1978 to the 2008 Olympics, with the second stage predicted to last another 40 years.

To be a global city, however, Bai said the capital must improve air quality, increase the number of libraries, improving quality of life and enhancing independent innovation.