Shenzhen takes economic top spot – again – but Hong Kong is more liveable, study finds
Shenzhen was the most economically competitive city in China in 2018 for a fifth consecutive year but Hong Kong leads the pack in living environment, business environment and development sustainability, according to an annual ranking by a Beijing-based think tank.
Shenzhen overtook Hong Kong as the most economically competitive Chinese city in the rankings for 2014 and has held on to the top spot since, with Hong Kong second.
The list is compiled by the National Academy of Economic Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and covers 293 cities in the region, including on the mainland, on Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing filled out the final three spots in the top five for economic competitiveness.
Shenzhen was eighth on the liveable city list, behind not only Hong Kong but also Guangzhou and Macau.
The national academy said the list was meant to be a general reference for government departments and the investment community to help them make decisions.
But the rankings have been accused of giving too much weight to economic growth and size while largely neglecting differences in social and political systems.
In contrast, in 2018, the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking, which treats Hong Kong as a separate economy from the mainland, put the city second only to the United States among 63 economies, with mainland China 13th and Taiwan 17th.
The national academy also found that the economic competitiveness gap between China’s southern and northern cities has widened, with northern cities dropping 6.2 places and southern cities rising 5.4 places on average on the competitiveness list since 2017.
Among the 20 most competitive cities, six are in the Yangtze River Delta and four are in the Pearl River Delta, China’s manufacturing heartlands.
The report also concludes that China is only halfway through its urbanisation process. While a few cities had entered the “high income” stage of urbanisation, most cities still had a long way to go, it added.
The study forecasts that China will become a “smart society” by 2035, with over 70 per cent of its population – around one billion people – living and working in cities by that time.
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