August 5, 2013, by Tony Hong

Growing Successful Cities

By Vincent Pan,

Studying Commerce and Science at the University of New South Wales Australia.

In Shanghai, a tour guide joked that the preferred mode of transport of Shanghai citizens were BMWs. That is, they rode Bicycles, they shared Motorcycles or they used their feet and Walked from A to B. For many citizens, these modes of transport are not only are these a cheaper and more environmentally friendly, but through using them, they are able to travel faster and  more efficiently than the cars that stuck in Shanghai’s Traffic.

Traffic in many Chinese cities is getting worse and worse with the growing population and intense migration and urbanization from many rural migrants. One way to combat this is to plan for the future by planning the layout of the cities.

Urban Planning in China has been around for thousands of years. Evidence of this can be seen in Xi’an, and its surrounding villages, Nanjing, Beijing and a few other cities. In Xi’an, a wall, where visitors can bicycle on, forms a square that encompasses the city. Previously there were two main markets in Xian, one in the east and one in the west. This has lead to the phrase ‘dong xi’ when talking about items, as during those times one had to go to the east and then to the west markets if they wanted to visit all the shops to buy items. Many other spatial properties to exist in Xi’an and there are many historic evidence that show many geometric and Feng-shui practices in the layout of these cities.

Since the inception of the People’s Republic of China there has been three historic stages; creations of socialist cities, hybrid cities, and global cities. Harbin, Tianjin and Guangzhou are examples of socialist cities, hybrid cities, and global cities, respectively.

The success of the planning and realization of these cities is up for discussion. On one hand, cities are continuing to attract migrants from different provinces and migrants around the world. On the other, traffic, pollution, ghost cities and empty apartments persist in being a problem in most major and other rapidly growing cities in China. From a weekend trip to Shanghai, the traffic issue could be seen and felt not only in the city, but in the surrounding areas of the city as well.

Visitors could also see and feel the pollution as well. In the Bund of Shanghai, a hazy veil stood in-between the camera and its subject, the Pearl Tower. And the longer one walked around and stayed in the Bund, the effect of the pollution could be felt more and more in the throat and in the eyes.

Using our eyes, as we travelled on the bus, it was visible that there were a lot of apartments. Clones of these living spaces littered the land. However, if one walked around at night, in some areas, many of the apartments remained unoccupied. Though the growth of the population of these cities is a definite, whether it is aligned with how the government sees it is not so definite.

With continual internal migration from the rural to the east, and more foreign businesses wanting to conduct business and wanting to grow in China, it is inevitable for the cities of China to grow in population. For successful economic growth, and for the existence a harmonious lifestyle, China must balance the market-led urban development with careful planning.

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