Ye Yizhou, an associate research fellow at Sun Yat-sen University, believes that the Pearl River Delta, as China's most important manufacturing hub, is bearing the brunt of the country's heavy burden of economic transformation and upgrade. This will work to enhance the region and eventually the whole country," he said. Xi, Trump meet in Buenos Aires.
Xi urges G20 to steer world economy responsibly. Xi, Putin, Modi agree to increase trilateral cooperation. Scenery of ginkgo trees in SE China's Fujian. Pakistan's armed forces present air show, anti-terrorism drill. Early winter scenery across China. China's icebreaker Xuelong enters floating ice area in Southern Ocean. At night, when the sky clears, it's not difficult to guess where the bridge leads.
The clouds on the other side of the bay glow orange, illuminated by the city of Hong Kong, with its population of 7 million, just beyond the horizon. Another glow can be seen farther north: the high-tech boomtown of Shenzhen, with 13 million inhabitants.
There is a third and fourth patch of light in the sky even beyond that: Dongguan, with 8 million people, and Guangzhou, population 15 million. In the haze of daylight, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, modern-day China's most recent gargantuan building project, seems to end somewhere out in the open sea. But it actually spans the mouth of the Pearl River Delta, an area that has grown to become the world's largest metropolitan region.
The bridge crosses 55 kilometers 34 miles of open water and has been designed to last years and withstand the ravages of storms and typhoons. It is a monument to a rapidly rising world power. Here, in the country's south, is where China's economic miracle began 40 years ago. Small towns became cities and cities became megacities. Some 16 million people lived in the region in Today, it's home to more than 70 million who, in an area smaller than Lithuania, generate an economic output roughly equivalent to Russia.
If the Pearl River Delta were an independent country, it would qualify for membership in the G forum of the world's largest economies. But Beijing has even greater ambitions. In February, the Communist Party announced plans to expand the delta into a city of cities that will rival the economic might and modernity of the world's major metropolises, like Tokyo, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area. Chen Yalei hails from the northern part of the delta, from the provincial capital of Guangzhou, once known as Canton.
He was 15 years old when he left China for the first time in and traveled to Hong Kong with a group of gifted students for a mathematics competition. Even the weather seemed better than on the mainland. It was another world. Today, the year-old Chen lives in Hong Kong as a financial broker and travels regularly between the cities on the Pearl River and across China: "Hong Kong seems small, old-fashioned and expensive today.
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Shenzhen, on the other hand, feels like Shanghai. Chen says that Hong Kong, which for decades was seen as superior to other Chinese cities, won't be able to resist much longer being pulled into the maelstrom of economic and technological advances on the mainland. China's leadership likes to forge vast plans, not all of which pan out. Long-pursued reform proposals to redistribute responsibilities from the overcrowded capital Beijing to neighboring cities have been delayed. The Shanghai Free-Trade Zone, announced in , has not attracted as many investors as anticipated.
In the port city of Tianjin -- where one municipal district was promoted as "China's Manhattan" -- the new skyscrapers have not filled up as expected.
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Meanwhile, other plans that might have initially seemed grotesquely oversized, like the multi-trillion-dollar project to build the New Silk Road, are progressing at a pace that has unnerved many in the West. Can China succeed in building a new kind of metropolis on the Pearl River, one that shapes the 21st century, just as New York marked the 20th century and Paris the 19th?
Already, the nine mainland Chinese cities and the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao form a unique urban ensemble. These survey data were more detailed than the official statistical data. Finally, several special field surveys on land quality have been conducted since the s. Sixteen major soil types were observed continually in the Delta region from to The National Soil Survey of China, carried out during —, and the field survey of provided detailed information on land quality at scales of , and , Finding 1: Population growth, in particular migration and increases in the floating population, is at once a cause and a consequence of land use change in the Pearl River Delta.
The new economic policy put in place for the Pearl River Delta and the corresponding loosening of the regulations for migration provided opportunities that attracted a large floating population.
Farmland was cleared to provide space for industry and for housing for the migrants. Thus population growth and land use change were both responses to the new economic model, and neither would have been possible without the other. Industries were built in response to market demands.
Welcome to the fascinating Pearl River Delta region
The demand for labor exceeded local supply, and the new migrants required further and more extensive conversion of land for housing. As a result, in the Delta total farmland has dropped as total population has increased Figure Overall, as net migration rates rose in the Delta between and , farmland decreased see Figure , despite the increasing local consumption of farm products.
Most moved temporarily into coastal regions such as the Pearl River Delta. The growing floating population in the Delta has been accompanied by an ever-greater demand for land.
The temporary population needs space for housing which in turn requires expansion of the urban infrastructure into the surrounding farmland. Intensified land use has been a significant consequence of changes in land use in the Pearl River Delta. In urban areas intensification has taken the form of significant increases in population density since Table and production. Indeed, the economic output per unit of land has increased dramatically; the gross domestic product of Delta cities increased from 6. Intensified land use also is evident in agriculture, where more farmland must be converted to nonagricultural uses to make room for urbanization.
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To compensate for the loss of farmland, farmers must increase yields per unit of farmland, which in turn requires higher inputs of technology, capital, and labor. For example, since agricultural intensification in Shenzhen and Dongguan has generally increased grain yields per unit of farmland Figure An important indicator of technological input is the gross power consumption of the machinery used in agricultural production such as tractors and pumps. This indicator increased by. The difference between a member of the floating population and a migrant is that the member of the floating population does not change his or her household registration and the migrant does.
Finding 2: In the Pearl River Delta changes in consumption levels caused by the economic growth have led to changes in land use in cities and changes in crop production in rural areas. At the early stages of economic development beginning in , the local production of goods and services served mainly to supply local demand. Later, when production surpassed local demand and the economy became fully open, local products were not only consumed within the region, but also exported through interregional, interprovincial, and international trade.
NOTE: Grain yield per unit farmland is a weighted average of various grains. In the Delta area it mainly reflects rice production. This trade set in motion a process of dramatic shifts in consumption in the region. Among them, the increased population growth and wealth resulting from rising production and trade caused a significant change in the regional housing structure.
The Pearl River Delta: a region of copycats or a center of innovation?
For example, the per capita floor space in Guangzhou City remained constant from to , at only 3—4 square meters. But by per capita floor space was about three times that of the s and s Figure , even though the population continued to grow. This development stemmed in part from rising incomes and in. Indeed, the government implemented special policies to foster housing development.
One government housing reform policy allowed diversification of housing construction. As a result, not only governments and state-owned enterprises but also private real estate companies can now invest in housing development. The expansion of green space in urban areas is another example of the changes in land use brought by economic development. Changes in diet and crop production offer additional evidence of shifts in consumption. Residents of urban areas now consume less grain than in previous years.
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