Home Asia China’s Cities Rising in the Ranks of the World’s Most Powerful

China’s Cities Rising in the Ranks of the World’s Most Powerful


Chinese cities are moving up the ranks as the world’s most powerful, with Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai now Topping Los Angeles, Berlin and Tokyo, and more…

For China to keep rising to compete with the likes of Western power centers, it needs to create cities more open to diversity and more inclusive, say analysts from AT Kearney in their 2019 Global Cities Index.

The report was published in May.

As Chinese cities become more international balancing the local population’s needs for easy and affordable modes of transportation and housing with individual fulfillment is becoming essential.

So, unless you know your way around China’s cities can be boring, especially compared to the world’s Top 5 cities: New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Still, Beijing beats Washington, DC. President Xi’s home city is ranked # 9 on the Global Cities Index while President Trump’s home away from home city is ranked #10.

AT Kearney says that 1 of the ways Chinese cities can climb up the ranks, enabling Shanghai to surpass Hong Kong is more diversity.

Shanghai’s 19th place on the Global Cities Index remains unchanged from Y 2018. The city is ahead of Boston at #21 and San Francisco at #22.

One type of diversity palatable to the Communist Party in Beijing is bringing in high-skilled, foreign workers. Hong Kong has been a bastion of this for over a century, owing to its British colonial heritage. That is not so in most Chinese cities.

Although the report does not reference China’s Greater Bay Area project, a high-tech development zone linking Hong Kong to Mainland cities in the southeastern part of the mainland, Beijing could score AT Kearney’s diversity points by importing foreign tech workers in a manner similar to the H-1B visa program in the United States.

A scarcity of talent has led to fierce competition among Chinese cities.

Initiatives that foster opportunities in higher education and support startup ecosystems help attract newcomers and enable cities to keep the talent they have. 

Chengdu, located in central China, has become one example of this. Its startup community counts many Europeans and Canadian-born Chinese who are looking for opportunities in China’s expanding tech market.

Chengdu is ranked #89.

Over the past 40 years, China’s cities have gone from traditional dynastic structures built around courtyards to modern, glass and steel skyscrapers symbolic of modern-day capitalism.

Their urbanization rate rose from 18% in Y 1978 to 60% in Y 2018. China’s urban population now stands at around 830-M.

City governments pursued rapid expansion and an increased population and economic output to build up its urban areas over the last 20 years. It led to a global commodities super-cycle that lasted until around Y 2008, crashing and never really recovering after the Great Recession in the US.

So, by Y 2011, China’s urbanization began to slow down due in part to pollution and poor urban planning around things such as water and sewer.

Now, Chinese cities have shifted to quality-oriented development, designed to mimic the international lifestyle of Hong Kong. This became the Key contributor to the fast growth of Chinese cities climbing up the ranks of AT Kearney’s Global Cities Index.

AT Kearney’s annual Global Cities Index is meant for corporations looking to assess which cities can deliver in the areas considered most important for business growth and most attractive for foreign employees.

China has 27 cities on the Global Cities Index this year. The Index has 130 cities, of which 11 Chinese cities populate the list of the Top 100.

Stay tuned…

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S. Jack Heffernan Ph.D. Economist at Knightsbridge holds a Ph.D. in Economics and brings with him over 25 years of trading experience in Asia and hands on experience in Venture Capital, he has been involved in several start ups that have seen market capitalization over $500m and 1 that reach a peak market cap of $15b. He has managed and overseen start ups in Crypto, Mining, Shipping, Technology and Financial Services.