35 Chinese Cities Have Economies As Big As Countries

Gaining perspective on China’s monstrous economy isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

As Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, with 1.4 billion people and the third-largest geographical area, the country is a vast place to begin with. Add in explosive economic growth, a market-oriented but Communist government, a longstanding and complex cultural history, and self-inflicted demographic challenges – and understanding China can be even more of a puzzle.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist


To truly grasp the emergence of China, one approach is to look at the impressive economic footprint made by the country’s cities.

Of course, cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong are the metro economic powerhouses that most people are familiar with. But have you heard of cities like Shijiazhuang, Wuxi, Changsha, Suzhou, Ningbo, Foshan, or Yantai?

There are literally dozens of Chinese cities that most people in Western countries have never heard of – yet they each hold millions of people and have an economic output comparable to nations.

The infographic above illustrates 35 of them, but here’s a list of 10 of them, the size of their local economy, and a comparably sized national economy:


It’s also important to remember that these cities don’t exist in isolation, and are instead cogs in the wheels of larger megaregions. Such areas would be comparable to the Northeast U.S., in which New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. are all hours apart and remain largely integrated as a regional economy.

In China, there are three main megaregions worth noting:

Yangtze River Delta
With a combined GDP of $2.17 trillion, which is comparable to Italy, the Yangtze River Delta contains cities like Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Wuxi, Ningbo, and Changzhou.

Pearl River Delta
With a combined GDP of $1.89 trillion, which is comparable to South Korea, the Pearl River Delta has cities like Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Dongguan, and Macao.

With a combined GDP of $1.14 trillion, which is comparable to Australia, this megaregion holds the two largest cities in northern China, Beijing and Tianjin. The two cities are a 30-minute bullet train ride apart.


old naughty Steroid Thu, 11/09/2017 - 23:59 Permalink

I read few days ago, the list was a little different: Rank Chinese City City GDP (2015, in billions) Comparable Country #1 Shanghai $810 Netherlands #2 Beijing $664 Switzerland #3 Guangzhou $524 Argentina #4 Shenzhen $491 Sweden #5 Tianjin $478 Poland #6 Suzhou $440 Belgium #7 Chongqing $425 Thailand #8 Hong Kong $414 Norway #9 Wuhan $324 Israel #10 Hangzhou $275 Chile

In reply to by Steroid

Endgame Napoleon Fri, 11/10/2017 - 00:01 Permalink

Although our widespread prosperity, along with the well being of several generations was shipped over there, Westerners have not heard about some of those cities because they do not buy anything from us except raw materials. Even though every product we buy is made in some city in that country, the label does not say Made in Wuhan. It says Made in China.

junction Endgame Napoleon Fri, 11/10/2017 - 01:21 Permalink

China buys or steals technology from the United States.  Slim pickings these days.  American software is great, good for spying on citizens.  New American hardware now mostly sucks, no real innovation.  The last generation of quality American engineers graduated from colleges over forty years ago.  These are the engineers whose R&D work created the most advanced military hardware in the world.  For an example of the decline in American engineering, look at the shoddy performance of the F-35 fighter jet vs. the F-16 jet in a dogfight.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3148585/Pentagon-say-reason-exp…

In reply to by Endgame Napoleon

Juliette junction Fri, 11/10/2017 - 05:10 Permalink

And what the US does get right today in terms of engineering is none of their own inventions, but only thanks to their massive economic spy program in Europe and most of all in Germany. The US simply spies and steals all the german patents and innovations and copies them. Germany can't do fuck all about it since it is a de facto US colony and all its elites are bought and paid for by Washington DC.

In reply to by junction

MAGA Fri, 11/10/2017 - 00:37 Permalink

Those cities have been prosperous for thouands of years, even before Europeans became civilized. No surprise if they picked up their lost glory.

ds Fri, 11/10/2017 - 00:43 Permalink

Western fake media promoting the invicibilities of small European nations like Sweden, Norway etc. Doing no EC nationals any favor in not exposing them to the Competition by reinforcing the hype that China is only an economy of IP thefts, stifled innovations, etc. Hangzhou for example is 50 mins by bullet train from Shanghai is the software center of China (home of Alibaba, etc). This city has already surpassed Bangalore (India) with its AI algos (beyond hardware) albeit still behind Silicon Valley.Get your kids to learn Chinese otherwise they do not know what wipe them when the relentless drive towards having their own 4th Industrial Revolution tech tools. They need the survival info beyond what are propagated by Western fake news media. China is not closed to the free flow of the latest innovations of the 4I technologies in the internet. Another myth is that there is so much media suppression that objective business reviews and/or tech and innovation news have to toll the State line. 

roddy6667 g3h Fri, 11/10/2017 - 03:50 Permalink

The PPP thing is not relevant. It does not allow for things like percent of income that is disposable, etc. Most Chinese don't have to pay a mortgage or rent because they own their home outright. Also, there is no property tax. Utilities (electric, heat in the northern half, gas, cable TV, house phone, mobile phone, Internet) are all supplied by the government at about 25% of what an American pays. This allows them to buy a better lifestyle for less. Middle classs, neasured by Western standards, only takes about $9600 a YEAR household income. After 5 years of living here, I estimate that an American dollar goes 5X as far in China as it does in the States.The American economy is 50% bigger measured in dollars, but measured in lifestyle purchased, China pulled ahead years ago. It is moving forward and the US is backsliding.

In reply to by g3h

OYO roddy6667 Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:49 Permalink

China is becoming a more expensive place to live in every year. Shanghai is already as high cost as some great American metropolises. Many Chinese cities are already affected by gentrification.GDP PPP is basically bullshit to make poor countries egos feel richer.  You cannot change reality by manipulating a bunch of numbers on paper. American consumers get shafted by the oligopolistic alliance of corporations who milk them of their money at every turn. That is why in the US you get very expensive services of very low quality.

In reply to by roddy6667

roddy6667 OYO Fri, 11/10/2017 - 20:40 Permalink

Looking at the cost of living in Shanghai or a few select first tier Chinese cities is like looking at the cost of living on Park Avenue in NYC or in Greenwich, CT or the Bay Area in San Francisco. It is totally irrelevant to the discussion. I travel extensively inside China and following home prices and ordinary cost of living trends. My son-in-law also travels for business a lot inside China. I believe we have a lot better view of what is going on here than you do. Where do you get this "information" you use to form your opinions?

In reply to by OYO

DaiRR Fri, 11/10/2017 - 01:37 Permalink

Think big and pass the soy sauce.Fifty years ago I heard you could form a column of Chinese 6 people wide and march them off a cliff and the line would never end.  Well they haven't been marching off a cliff and there's a whole lot more of them now.  So it is what it is, and no country in its right mind would try to catch up with China by importing muzzies and Africans.  Whoops, I shouldn't have said that, and the EU and the U.S. shouldn't have done that.

aeslong Fri, 11/10/2017 - 03:08 Permalink

bullshit, high gdp does not mean you are rich or happy. high gdp simply means high price that people can not afford. look at us health insurance, are you enjoying in it?