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Beijing is China’s only shining northern city as centre of economic gravity moves south

ILC

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  • Beijing is the only city in the northern half of the country to be included in China’s top 10 cities in terms of economic size this year
  • China’s north-south divide is adding to an already complex regional imbalance between eastern coastal provinces and western regions
Beijing is the only northern city to be included in China’s top 10 cities in terms of economic size this year. Photo: AFP
Beijing is the only northern city to be included in China’s top 10 cities in terms of economic size this year. Photo: AFP

Beijing is the only northern city to be included in China’s top 10 cities in terms of economic size this year. Photo: AFP
All Chinese cities north of the Yangtze River, except Beijing, are in relative decline as the centre of economic gravity in the world’s second biggest economy quickly shifts southward.
The capital is the only city in the north of the country included in China’s top 10 cities in terms of economic size this year, according to government data.
Tianjin
, one of China’s four municipalities under direct administration of the central government, lost its position in the list for the first time on record.
As China pivots towards “coordinated regional development” for 2021-25, private investors, banks and workforce talent are concentrating in the Pearl River Delta and the
Yangtze River Delta
in the south.
That is increasing China’s north-south divide and adding to an already complex regional imbalance between eastern coastal provinces and landlocked western regions.


Wang Yiming, former deputy director of the Development Research Centre of the State Council, said the economic disparity between north and south was becoming too large to ignore, and was overtaking the east-west gap as the prime regional imbalance.

The regional gap is likely to widen further in the next five years
Wang Yiming


“The regional gap is likely to widen further in the next five years,” he said last week at a forum at Renmin University of China.

Wei Houkai, head of the Rural Development Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, agreed the north-south divide would soon be the top concern for regional development.

The polarisation shows most parts of the country are struggling due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the ageing population and heavy debt – making China’s US$15 trillion economy vulnerable to shocks.

The economic weighting of northern China as a proportion of the national economy has dropped to about a third this year, from nearly half in 2008, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The economic decline of China’s north could have far-reaching impacts on national strategies, from the Belt and Road Initiative that passes through the region, to the new “dual circulation” plan that aims to develop the domestic market for future growth, analysts said.


What happened at the Chinese Communist Party’s major policy meeting, the fifth plenum?
Wu Xiaohua, vice-president of China Academy of Macroeconomic Research, a think tank affiliated with the powerful National Development and Reform Commission, said last month the entire northern economy was “sinking”.

To narrow the gap China should develop an economic zone along the Great Canal, which connects Beijing in the north and Hangzhou in the south, Wu said. He added the north-south divide was so big it could impact “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.
Beijing could face difficulty drafting nationwide policies to fit regions that were as diverse economically as Silicon Valley and Detroit, analysts said.

Ni Pengfei, an urbanisation expert in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted by website sohu.com last month as saying that northern regions usually relied heavily on state-led investment for growth, which had contributed to their economic decline.
In the latest China City Competitiveness ranking compiled by Ni’s team, southern hi-tech hub Shenzhen ranked first, followed by neighbouring Hong Kong and financial powerhouse Shanghai.

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Some reforms are needed in the north. Maybe go more into tourism? For me, the economic center going south is not a bad thing, but it needs to be carefully evaluated. I hate cold, that's why I can't stand the winter in Poland, it's all cool to go skiing for one month, but the winter and shitty weather is for half of a year.

 
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FIIL

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Actually, I think it's good to let cities of the north to stay relatively small. Lots of them have a run on the natural resource to sustain the urban population. For Beijing's water supply, they have to launch a megaproject https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South–North_Water_Transfer_Project that costs tons of money to sustain the water supply.
I do support 南水北调 in general but the problem is even with this project. The water is still not enough for a lot of northern cities.
 

Beast

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South of China is in geographical advantage. Land is fertile, plenty of fresh water. Nearer to ASEAN market facilitate trade. Places like inner mongolia of North is a terrible places to live due to extreme cold and dry condition.

Without Yong Le of Ming , I bet none of the North cities in China will be developed.
 
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Zsari

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  • Beijing is the only city in the northern half of the country to be included in China’s top 10 cities in terms of economic size this year
  • China’s north-south divide is adding to an already complex regional imbalance between eastern coastal provinces and western regions



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Some reforms are needed in the north. Maybe go more into tourism? For me, the economic center going south is not a bad thing, but it needs to be carefully evaluated. I hate cold, that's why I can't stand the winter in Poland, it's all cool to go skiing for one month, but the winter and shitty weather is for half of a year.

Needs access to Sea of Japan to enable the northern cities to prosper. With the artic route opening up, there is still potential there.
 

siegecrossbow

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  • Beijing is the only city in the northern half of the country to be included in China’s top 10 cities in terms of economic size this year
  • China’s north-south divide is adding to an already complex regional imbalance between eastern coastal provinces and western regions



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Some reforms are needed in the north. Maybe go more into tourism? For me, the economic center going south is not a bad thing, but it needs to be carefully evaluated. I hate cold, that's why I can't stand the winter in Poland, it's all cool to go skiing for one month, but the winter and shitty weather is for half of a year.

Kinda hard to develop tourism when some cities in Dongbei are ripping off tourists with 15 yuan roasted sausages.
 

FairAndUnbiased

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Increased trade with Russia, central Asia and South Korea is the best way to do this. In particular, the North needs to modernize its heavy industry to provide the means of production for light industry in the South rather than continue to allow the South to import machinery.
 

TaiShang

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Also, internet econom can help. Many Western cities in China promote local products and attractions via live stream. This helps increased revenue and tourism. I myself follow lots of livestreamers from Heilongjiang and buy stuff when I am in the Mainland.
 

Paul2

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The north has been thoroughly culturally revolutionized in seventies.

The south stayed low, and put, and quietly watched northerners killing each others.

Hebei, Henan, and Shandong were the most populous provinces few decades ago, now it's GD, and Sichuan.

Results speak for itself.
 

Mohrenn

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The north is full of smaller cities, if you go look on Google Earth you'll see that the north is flat so cities are well spread out, whereas in the south they have to be concentrated on the few patches of flat terrain so cities are bigger.
 

tower9

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Southern Chinese work very hard and are obsessed with money while Northerners drink too much
 

FIIL

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Southern Chinese work very hard and are obsessed with money while Northerners drink too much
For real? Do they live in russia? China's economy has been shifting from north to south since the Jin dynasty. Facts are southern China just has more geographical advantages.
The north has been thoroughly culturally revolutionized in seventies.

The south stayed low, and put, and quietly watched northerners killing each others.

Hebei, Henan, and Shandong were the most populous provinces few decades ago, now it's GD, and Sichuan.

Results speak for itself.
Where the heck does that knowledge come from? It's so hard to watch some Chinese users' posts on this website.
 
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