China’s future of huge urban areas and dominant ecommerce

China’s first quarter 2018 retail sales were 10% more than the US level. China was at $1.436 trillion and the US was at $1.306 trillion. China’s overall retail is growing at 9% per year or double the US rate.

China’s ecommerce is growing at 21% per year.

China Second phase of Urbanization

China is creating 19 supercity clusters by strengthening the links between existing urban centres. The supercities will have about 800 million people and more than 80% of the country’s GDP in 2030.

287 million people have moved from low-income agriculture to higher-income city industries, the largest population transfer in history.

Another 40 million people will migrate to cities by 2020 and the productivity gap will have more than halved since 2000.

China is now entering a second phase of urbanization. The current five-year plan identifies 19 city clusters with 11 of them accounting for a tenth of China’s land area, a third of the population, and two-thirds of national GDP.

The top three urban areas are Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (known as Jing-Jin-Ji), the Yangtze River Delta (Shanghai area) and the Greater Bay Area (9 cities -including Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Macau). They account for 36% of China’s total GDP but just 2.8% of its land area and 18% of the national population.

Beijing will be a national political, cultural, international communication and scientific innovation centre. Tianjin will become a regional logistics and transportation hub while Hebei will take on non-essential functions – mostly factories and retail markets – from Beijing.

The Yangtze River Delta is a key node of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The transport network, including railways, highways and the Yangtze waterway, has expanded rapidly over 10 years with Shanghai as the hub linking other urban areas. The target is to boost the region’s contribution to national GDP from 12.6 per cent to 21 per cent by 2020 with USD30 billion invested in building a 5G telecoms network by 2022.

The Greater Bay Area, further south, includes Shenzhen – ranked second only to Beijing among China’s most innovative cities. Its unique advantages lie in its integration with Hong Kong and Macao – both service-driven economies. More than 50% of China’s international patent applications are from this area.