The British newspaper The Telegraph reported in January about a new proposed Mega City in the south of China that would merge nine cities in the Pearl River Delta region, including Guangzhou and Shenzhen. It will be twice the size of Wales and would unite 42 million people into one city. The mega city intends to recapture an economic competitive advantage relative to Beijing and Shanghai. Currently, the nine cities of the Pearl River Delta region account for almost a tenth of the Chinese economy.
The planning effort will create greater mobility and economies of scale through new infrastructure investments in transportation, energy, and communications technologies. The project will add 3,100 miles of new rails, which would cut commutes between the nine cities to about an hour.
Adam Nathaniel Mayer, author of the China Urban Development Blog writes:
This is the key. The Chinese government still enforces the hukou household registration system for its citizens, making it difficult for people who move from one city to another to use the services offered by their new city. Restrictions for migrants to new cities are not only limited to healthcare and educational services, but to investment opportunities as well such as starting a business or purchasing a new home.
By amalgamating the cities of the Pearl River Delta into one ‘mega-city’, this gets rid of the bureaucratic restrictions of the hukou registration. Now, the migrants who have left their native homes and settled in the Pearl River Delta can move more freely around the region. This is much more than semantics- it is a huge step forward in the liberalization of movement and opportunity for its citizens.
The article also mentions that a unified regional growth plan will help the area address its environmental impacts by better managing consumption of gas and electricity, and improved spatial placement of industry. This plan seems like a promising step forward in the future growth of China, and its role as being a model for urban planning and development. It is unfortunate that in the United States, we are unable to even agree on a unified plan for developing a high-speed rail system or future alternatives to automobile transit.