(Yicai Global) April 21 -- With the accelerated pace of urbanization, the number of large and mega cities in China is also increasing. In addition to the central urban area population, the urban built-up area is also an important indicator of the size of a city.
China has 49 cities with built-up area of more than 200 square kilometers each, Yicai Global found. They are mainly the first-tier and second-tier cities, as well as some large third-tier cities. The built-up areas of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing stretch more than 1000 square kilometers each.
Beijing tops the list with 1,401 square kilometers. There is not updated information about Shanghai's built-up area. However, the National Bureau of Statistics historical data shows Shanghai's built-up area reached almost 1,000 square kilometers in 2010. Taking into account the urban population and construction land data, the actual built-up area of Shanghai may well be similar to that of Beijing currently.
Chongqing in Southwest China ranks third, with a built-up area of 1,329 square kilometers.
The built-up area in the main urban area of the first-tier city Guangzhou is also roughly 1,000 square kilometers. In 2014, the built-up area of Guangzhou was 1,035 square kilometers. Excluding Nansha district which is some 60 to 70 kilometers away from the main urban area, the built-up area in the main urban area of Guangzhou runs about 1,000 square kilometers.
The built-up area of Dongguan city, Guangdong province, reaches 932 square kilometers, placing it in fifth place, above such first-tier cities as Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan and Chengdu. One of the reasons why Dongguan ranks so high is the statistics for the built-up area of Dongguan includes more than 20 townships under the city. If only measured by the main urban area, Dongguan's built-up area is much smaller than Shenzhen, Wuhan, Tianjin and other big cities.
The built-up areas in large regional cities in the traditional planned economy era are also correspondingly large. The built-up areas in Guangzhou, Nanjing, Chengdu, Wuhan and Xi'an are more than 500 square kilometers.
Ding Changfa, associate professor at the department of economics, Xiamen University, told Yicai Global that the administrative level of the cities in regional centers in the northwest, central and northeast China is relatively high as they enjoy higher resource allocation, thereby, paving the way for large city scale.
Out of 49 cities with a built-up area of more than 200 square kilometers, 28 are in the eastern coastal areas, five in northeast China, and 16 in the central and western regions, which are mainly the provincial capital cities (including municipalities).
In terms of provinces, Jiangsu has the most built-up city areas, with a total of seven cities, namely, Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, Xuzhou, Nantong and Lianyungang. Except for Lianyungang, the other six cities' total GDP exceeded CNY500 billion each, entitling them to build their own subway networks.
After Jiangsu, China's second largest economic powerhouse, Guangdong province, has five cities each with a built-up area of more than 200 square kilometers, namely, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Shantou and Huizhou.
Compared with the coastal areas, the cities in central and western regions are basically capital cities, and only Luoyang is the non-capital one. This shows that the central and western urbanization level and urban development level are still relatively low. Apart from the capital cities, the size of built-up areas and the scale of the population in other cities are relatively small, with a greater gap compared with the eastern coastal regions.
In Yunnan, Guizhou, Shaanxi, Gansu and Xinjiang, except for the capital cities, no city's built-up area exceeds 100 square kilometers. The size of the local-level cities is generally small. Both the economic development and population concentration in these cities are far behind the capital cities.
There are no cities with a built-up area of 200 square kilometers in Hainan, Ningxia, Qinghai and Tibet. The common characteristic of these provinces and autonomous regions is that the total population is less than 10 million and the population and urban scale in these provincial and autonomous region capitals are relatively small correspondingly.
The majority of the 49 large cities examined are municipality cities, provincial capital cities and the provincial-level cities, and there are only 17 ordinary local-level cities. In addition to Dongguan, Suzhou, Wuxi and Yantai, the built-up areas in other cities of the 17 local-level cities are between 200 to 270 square kilometers. Except for Luoyang in the central region and Daqing in the northeast region, all other cities are in the eastern coastal areas.
Despite the urbanization rate of the central and western provinces is relatively low, and the size of the cities in the ordinary local-level cities is small, it also means there will be greater future growth potential there. Especially in some industrial cities, such as Baotou and Liuzhou, there exists a large number of industries and population. The built-up areas in these cities are close to 200 square kilometers each.
The built-up areas in Yichang city and Xiangyang city, Hubei province, also exceed 160 square kilometers. In recent years, Hubei province has selected Yichang, and Xiangyang as two provincial sub-center cities for development, echoing with the provincial capital city of Wuhan, to form "a center city and two sub-center cities" tripod development pattern. It is predicted that with the accelerating pace of urbanization and the economic development of the central and western regions in the future, the population and city scale in these ordinary local-level cities with good industrial development are expected to continue the growth trend.