Rising prices, worsening pollution, and the spread of economic development are changing the quality of life in China’s cities, and according to a newly released report, Zhuhai has now pushed aside Hong Kong as the country’s most livable city.
The result comes as one of a number of findings in the 12th edition of the Annual Report on Urban Competitiveness published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a think tank affiliated with China’s central government.
In terms of overall competitiveness, Hong Kong maintained the top position in the country, although the report did raise concerns about the heavy weighting of the property and financial services sectors in the special administrative region’s economy. The study also noted the risks to the city’s competitiveness if billionaire Li Ka-shing continues to sell off his Chinese assets in favor of European opportunities.
The Academy’s “blue paper” ranked Shenzhen, Shanghai, Taipei and Guangzhou next among the country’s five most competitive cities. The report was based on evaluations of nine factors including living conditions, city harmony and cultural competitiveness, according to a report in the official Xinhua news agency.
The overall competitiveness rankings showed little change from 2013, with the same ten cities remaining at the top of the list, with the only variation being last years’s number eight city, Foshan, sliding to the ninth rank this year, with last year’s number nine city, Tianjin, moving up to take its place.
Major Mainland Cities Losing Out on Livability
High property prices and rampant pollution pulled down the livability rankings for some of the major metropolises on the mainland, with the coastal cities of Zhuhai, and Hong Kong along with Haikou on Hainan island ranking one, two and three for this factor.
Beijing, which was ranked sixth overall for competitiveness came in 41st out of the 294 cities surveyed for livability, thanks to its famously gritty air and high real estate prices. However, the rating was 33 places higher than it ranked last year for this aspect.
In the Xinhua report one of the authors from the Academy explained Beijing’s livability score
“High housing prices, air pollution and traffic congestion detract from Beijing’s livability,” said Yang Jie, one of the report’s co-authors. “Yet, the city remains competitive thanks to its well-educated citizenry, high quality medical and educational institutions, developed commercial environment and public infrastructure.”
Shanghai, while managing to come in third for competitiveness, only came in 10th for livability.