(Yicai Global) Feb. 1 -- Shanghai retained its top position as China's most productive city last year, followed by Beijing, but some of the rapidly rising municipalities include Chongqing and Suzhou, according to official data interpreted by Yicai Global.
Shanghai boosted its economic growth by 1.7 percent to CNY3.87 trillion (USD599 billion) last year from 2019, according to the eastern municipality's official data release. Meanwhile, Beijing's gross domestic product climbed by 1.2 percent to CNY3.61 trillion.
Shenzhen is expected to retain its third spot. Even though no official number is out yet, the southeastern city's GDP is predicted to exceed CNY2.8 trillion, placing it on the list of Asia's top five high-yielding cities, according to a government report disclosed by a local media outlet late last year.
A Tale of Two Cities: Guangzhou and Chongqing
Two Chinese cities vie for the No. 4 position on the list. Even though Chongqing was winning in the first nine months of 2020, Guangzhou beat the south-central city with its CNY1.6 billion (USD247.7 million) lead as the southern manufacturing hub's total tally reached CNY2.5 trillion.
Chongqing is quite likely to surpass Guangzhou in the next three to five years, Peng Peng, executive director of the Guangdong System Reform Research Society, told Yicai Global. The huge area and population of Chongqing are expected to become more urban, which should drive development in infrastructure and the real estate sector, Peng added.
But the Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up the fundamentals of 2020 and 2021. Many regional governments have encouraged their residents to avoid traveling to their home towns during Chinese New Year which could affect cities that rely on migrant workers.
"It is expected that work will start earlier this year than in previous years, which is absolutely
beneficial to industrial production," said Peng. That could help boost Guangzhou's industrial output in the first quarter of 2021.
Moreover, Guangzhou has another ace up its sleeve. The city's new energy vehicle and biopharmaceutical sectors are booming. Moving up the value chain could supercharge growth.
Chongqing is still far from Guangzhou in terms of GDP per capita, Niu Fengrui, researcher at the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Yicai Global.
The Exciting Gainers Down From No. 6
Another rising city is Suzhou. The eastern municipality's GDP was CNY2.02 trillion in 2020, exceeding the level of CNY2 trillion for the first time and ranking sixth amongst all Chinese cities.
Chengdu was No. 7 and Hangzhou No. 8. The eastern city that Alibaba Group Holding calls its home has strong development potential and was less affected by the pandemic in 2020 as its digital and new economy has developed well over recent years, according to Niu.
Wuhan, No. 9, saw its value-added output fall by 4.7 percent to CNY1.56 trillion last year, making it the only name in the top 10 to record a decline as the central Chinese city was overcoming the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province, made it to the top 10 for the first time as its GDP rose to CNY1.48 trillion. Eastern Jiangsu province ranks second among Chinese administrative regions in terms of GDP per capita, and Nanjing's economy has been improving over the past few years via busy construction in the metropolitan area, according to Niu.
Editor: Emmi Laine