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.
CITY BY CITY
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.