(Yicai Global) May 10 -- Last year's biggest population increases in China took place in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Changsha, and Hangzhou, per statistics on 28 major Chinese cities. The Pearl River Delta and cities along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River saw the most growth.
Growth in Guangzhou and Shenzhen accounted for 86.31 percent of the total in the Pearl River Delta. Each of the two cities' populations burgeoned by more than 500,000.
The number of permanent residents in Guangzhou reached 14,043,500 last year, an increase of 542,400 from the previous year -- the biggest jump among the four first-tier cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen).
Of the four, Guangzhou has the lowest housing price and living cost, so many leading manufacturers chose it as an investment destination. Over the last couple of years, corporations such as Cisco Systems Inc. [NASDAQ:CSCO], General Electric Co. [NYSE:GE], and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. [TT:2317] (Foxconn Technology Group) opened branches in the city and contributed to the population growth.
The arrival of manufacturing giants will boost economic development in Guangzhou in the next one to two years, Peng Peng, vice chairman of Guangdong Provincial Institutional Reform Research Association, said. Economic growth will in turn attract more people to the city, Peng said.
The number of permanent residents in Shenzhen rose 530,000 to 11,908,400 last year. The number of residents holding a Shenzhen household registration grew 498,000 as a result of relaxed registration restrictions in the city.
Second-tier cities such as Chongqing, Changsha, and Hangzhou also ranked high on the list. Chongqing is located in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and took third place with a population increase of 318,800 last year. Following the arrival of major electronics manufacturers, the city achieved rapid economic growth in recent years, so many local rural residents started working in the downtown area, instead of going to coastal cities as they had done in the past.
Changsha came in fourth place. Its population growth of 213,400 is mainly attributable to the impressive development of the local mainstay industries -- industrial equipment manufacturing, culture, pharmaceutical, and automobile.
Unlike the industrial manufacturing-oriented model in Changsha and Chongqing, Hangzhou, situated in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, attracted a substantial amount of working population with its fast-growing information economy industries. Emerging strategic industries represented by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. [NYSE: BABA] greatly facilitated local economic restructuring and transformation, resulting in a large influx of information technology and e-commerce professionals.
The populations of Beijing and Shanghai, China's two largest cities, grew 24,000 and 44,300, respectively. Local governments had placed a strict cap on total population and introduced population control and redistribution measures, as the cities each already have more than 20 million people.
"Were it not for the population control policies, the increase in Beijing and Shanghai wouldn't have been lower than the increase in Guangzhou or Shenzhen, because they have a bigger appeal to high-end professionals," Peng said.