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Room for growth for China's second-tier cities
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In the future China's second-tier cities will be diversified, each with a distinct identity. They will also be more people-oriented and emphasize environmental protection; they will be more comfortable and beautiful as well, said Shi Peihua, researcher with the National Reform and Development Commission, in an interview with reporters from China Youth Biweekly.

Development of the second-line cities drives growth of surrounding areas

Urban construction is being carried out at all levels. The development of the second-tier cities has promoted the growth of specialty industries in neighboring cities, such as tourism, agriculture and trade.

An increase of the second-tier cities will also drive the increase of the third-tier cities, comparatively concentrating infrastructures so that neighboring cities have good prospects. This helps them obtain easier approval from investors to undertake city construction and development.

Second-tier cities aim at being regional central cities instead of metropolises

The patterns of city layout in China cannot be supported only by promoting several big cities; it is necessary to develop second-tier cites to balance urban and rural development and also to realize balanced development among different regions. The balanced urban layout can only be achieved through the second-tier cities that put more impetus onto surrounding areas.

China's second-tier cities are experiencing transition from the initial phase of industrialization to the middle phase, due to the high speed of urbanization and rapid population growth. It is not easy for farmers to make their living in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Second-tier cities are the best for farmers and industry accumulation.

The combined costs of any given city environment, supporting industry functions and exploration in the second-tier cities are comparatively lower so these cities have become the best critical points for investment. Generally cities with a population of 500 thousand functions almost perfectly; in fact, they are the most suitable places to live. These second-tier cities demonstrate innovative undertakings and lifestyles. Their comprehensive advantages are highlighted through attracting investment from small and middle investors as well as international investors, so they will continue to enjoy prosperous future development.

Second- tier cities should seek further growth

All the second-tier cities seek breakthroughs in their development. As the absorptive capacity of the second-tier cities becomes greater, external conditions and resources will be available for their breakthrough. The second-tier cities should establish a new urban system and develop into megalopolises to avoid old problems of big cities. They must establish a harmonious regional environment.

The development of the second-tier cities should be stratified and based on a division of labor, which is the only way that a harmonious regional environment can be realized. The current regional relations should be managed through marketing approaches and utilizing a philosophy of harmony and sympathetic response, whereas in the past relations were adjusted through administrative orders. A philosophy of equality and harmony should be established gradually, ecological communities should be further strengthened and industrial relations based on a division of labor and coordination should be further rationalized. Coordination is needed for these measures.

The second-line cities take measures to confront stress and crisis

The following measures should be taken to deal with population and environmental pressures and the conflict between ecological crisis and economic benefit.

First, an ecological baseline should be identified and maintained, such as the location's capability to resist earthquakes, as well as industrial absorption capacity, transportation and important infrastructures capacities. Restrictions on water consumption, land, transportation and management should also be enforced.

Second, the second-tier cities should create new forms of growth to advance their grades, which is achieved mainly through upgrading industries, optimizing space and improving industrial services. For example, Computers of 486 model upgraded into 586 model can hold more software, thus users can enjoy more computer games.

Third, coordination is necessary. Industries or investment that cannot be digested in the second-tier cities should be transferred into other cities, which aims at utilization instead of possession.

Second- tier cities actively respond to the challenges of labor cost

The second-tier cities should not always depend on low labor costs to attract investment and they should make room for the development of other small cities. This does not mean that second-tier cities will do nothing. Rather, they will simultaneously develop in finance, science and technology and business.

The second- tier cities will play a leading a role in 20 years

China's growth depends on not only big cities but also the second-tier cities. These cities will participate in international competition and cooperation after they have become bellwethers of surrounding areas. Urban planners predict that China's second-tier cities will diversify and develop into megalopolises, each with a distinct identity. They will also be more people-oriented and emphasize environmental protection; they will be more comfortable and beautiful as well.

(, by Yang Xi, October 31, 2007)

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