Beijing’s Megalopolis: Jing-Jin-Ji

 

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Beijing has become the first city to be awarded both Summer (2008) and recently announced Winter Olympics (2022). Everything about China is either premier first or super big & colossal like The Grand Canal, The Great Wall of China & Yangtze Three-Gorges Dam. Now what’s this about Jing-jin-Ji?

In China, megacities or supercities are a dime a dozen. But Beijing’s Megalopolis is not a new supercity that has organically emerged from the Chinese countryside. It’s actually three very large cities that are being forced to merge together to, bizarrely, reduce the size of one of them: Beijing.

Beijing is already bursting at the seams with around 21 million people, and 600,000 more pour into this city every year.
The capital has developed on steroids over the past 30 years, and the growth has brought with it the typical problems that come with a huge metropolitan.
To alleviate Beijing’s urban problems, solutions have been discussed & conceived as far back as 1980. The rapidity with which the Chinese government implement its decided projects is unimaginably awesome & unbelievable.

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China’s new megalopolis, Jing-Jin-Ji, would be bigger than Uruguay & more populous than Germany & Vietnam or 6 times the size of New York City. As large as one-third the population of US or the size of the State of Kansas will be living there. This megalopolis in China is so big it’s estimated to be the size of 17 Sydneys and, once complete, will be home to 130 million people.

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While the massive project, which will see Beijing, the port city of Tianjin and the Hebei hinterland region connected by high speed rail, began two years ago, Chinese authorities have been talking about creating it for more than a decade.
China already has two megaregions in the south, the Yangtze River Delta (south of the Yangtze River) and the Pearl River Delta (which comprises of nine cities including Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau), and has plans to create ten more, but Jing-Jin-Ji (“Jing” for Beijing, “Jin” for Tianjin and “Ji,” the traditional name for Hebei Province) is considered different because it was born out of political pressure rather than economic prosperity.

The combined economic output of Jing-Jin-Ji surpassed 6 trillion yuan ($970 billion) in 2014, accounting for about 10.9% of the country’s total GDP.

“It will happen,” associate professor Duanfang Lu, an expert in urban planning, said. “Especially now with China’s high speed trains. I think like a lot of things that involve large investment, as long as the central government is determined to achieve that it will be achieved.”

President Xi Jinping has promised “economic reform”and is pushing forward with the megacity and plans to construct new subway lines and update existing highways to handle the congestion.

The Jing-Jin-Ji region will encompass 82,000 square miles that link Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province. A high-speed rail will make commutes between the cities no more than an hour.

In July 2015, the South China Morning Post reported that the integration of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei would be the “signature project” of Xi Jinping’s administration . . . undoubtedly a tremendous showpiece for the world at large.

“The plan assigns specific economic roles to the cities,” according to the Times. “Beijing is to focus on culture and technology. Tianjin will become a research base for manufacturing. Hebei’s role is largely undefined, although the government recently released a catalog of minor industries, such as wholesale textile markets, to be transferred from Beijing to smaller cities.

China’s ambitious plan to transform Beijing and its surrounding areas into a 130 million-person “megalopolis” — a metro area six times larger than New York City — is beginning to take shape.

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent, An Australian by Consent

Saturdaay, 1 August 2015

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