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Shanghai tops others in development capacity
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-02 13:31

Important as Beijing is as China's capital and seat of government, it does not stand alone in terms of potential for development, researchers revealed Monday.

The capital largely lags behind the country's economic hub of Shanghai when it comes to its capacity for urban development. And even the southern city of Shenzhen has the same capability as Beijing.

The findings were unveiled on Monday by Niu Wenyuan, head of 100-plus experts who prepared an in-depth urban development report for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

The findings were similar to a separate report undertaken by a team led by Ni Pengfei from the Institute of Finance and Trade Economics, which is also under the CASS.

After analyzing the comprehensive competitiveness of 200 Chinese sample cities at or above the prefectural level, Ni's team found that China's top 10 most competitive cities were Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Ningbo, Nanjing and Wenzhou.

But a year before, Beijing ranked first among some 200 cities for its competitive power in terms of its workforce and science and technology. The results of Ni's team were exclusively released by Hunan Satellite TV Station yesterday.

According to Niu's team, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Qingdao, Chengdu are in the top 10 of China's 50 biggest cities.

The Chinese mainland has 668 cities and more than 20,000 towns, where more than 39 per cent of the nation's 1.3 billion people live.

Shanghai leads in overall economic output, urban infrastructure, basic resources, level of industrialization and many other indicators. And some Beijing residents have conceded that Shanghai is the nation's top city.

"I've heard a lot of comments from people all around the country about Shanghai's impressive economic performance and its potential," said Xiao Yu, an office worker in Beijing's Chaoyang District, after seeing the reports.

But Shanghai is not the clear-cut leader, according to the Niu report.

In terms of learning capability, Beijing beats Shanghai because of its group of renowned universities, research institutions, think-tanks and international research and development centres.

Beijing also has the most land line phones, mobile phones and Internet users. Shenzhen also beats Shanghai in this regard.

Shenzhen leads the pack when it comes to social security measures.

At yesterday's ceremony to announce the research results, Niu said his team has drawn up a framework involving a trio of central metropolitan areas, seven economic belts and a number of central cities with common features to cope with urban China's sprawl.

The metropolitan areas are the groups of cities around Bohai Bay, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta. They will serve as economic centres boosting the development of their surrounding areas.

The areas will contain more than half of China's population while accounting for 80 per cent of the national economy and 90 per cent of China's industry output value. About 95 per cent of the nation's trade volume will be produced there.

Also at yesterday's ceremony, National People's Congress Standing Committee Vice-Chairman Jiang Zhenghua said China's current low degree of urbanization, in addition to an insufficient urban population and economic scale in many large cities, has limited its economic development and has negative impact on its competitiveness.

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