China still looking to win the future
PRESIDENT OBAMA hoped his "Win the future" message would rally Americans behind a plan to invest in education and infrastructure. But China seems ready to beat America at winning the future:The Telegraph reports:City planners in south China have laid out an ambitious plan to merge together the nine cities that lie around the Pearl River Delta.The "Turn The Pearl River Delta Into One" scheme will create a 16,000 sq mile urban area that is 26 times larger geographically than Greater London, or twice the size of Wales.The new mega-city will cover a large part of China's manufacturing heartland, stretching from Guangzhou to Shenzhen and including Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing. Together, they account for nearly a tenth of the Chinese economy.Over the next six years, around 150 major infrastructure projects will mesh the transport, energy, water and telecommunications networks of the nine cities together, at a cost of some 2 trillion yuan (£190 billion). An express rail line will also connect the hub with nearby Hong Kong.And helpfully provides a map:The "China builds a new city" story brings to mind troubling accounts of places like Ordos, a million-person urban area erected from practically nothing which now stands almost empty. But the mega-city story is something quite different. The region is already quite densely populated, as you can see above, and the metro areas within the new city limits currently bleed into each other. Neither is the area of the new city that outrageous. It's about 120 miles from Zhaoqing to Huizhou, not much more than the distance from Malibu to the eastern side of the Moreno Valley, between which spans the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan area (home to about 17m people).What the Chinese effort actually seems to entail is a significant improvement in transportation around the region, harmonised local policies, and a rationalised metropolitan system of governance. And America could learn something from this. The New York metropolitan area (about half the size and population of the above mega city) stretches across four states. If the jurisdictions that make up the New York area were better able to coordinate, they city might not find itself cancelling critical infrastructure projects to close short-term budget gaps.