Geographies in Depth

The explosive growth of 8 'miracle' Chinese cities - in one chart

Chinese New Year decoration is seen  at Yuyuan Garden in downtown Shanghai January 28, 2014.

Chinese New Year decoration is seen at Yuyuan Garden in downtown Shanghai January 28, 2014. Image: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Katharina Buchholz
Data Journalist, Statista
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Inclusive Growth Framework

The economic miracle that is China’s rapid GDP expansion is most apparent in the explosive growth of its cities – in terms of population, but also in terms of GDP per city, as our graphic shows [link in Chinese].

Shanghai and Beijing, Southern cities Shenzhen and Guangzhou, Central Chinese stronghold Chongqing and its neighbor Chengdu as well as Shanghai satellite cities Suzhou and Hangzhou were some of the biggest cities in China in 2018 by GDP.

Their growth exemplifies the meteoric ascent of the Chinese economy. While in 1978 Shanghai’s GDP was a mere 27.3 billion yuan Renminbi, the city posted a GDP of CN¥3.3. trillion in 2018, a 12,000 percent increase. The biggest Cinderella story is Shenzhen, though. The Southern Chinese city that lies wedged between two other megacities, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, had a GDP of under 200 million in 1978, which increased to CN¥2.4 trillion by 2018 thanks to an economic free-trade zone set up there. On its way to become the third largest city in China in 2018, Shenzhen grew its GDP by a staggering 1.2 million percent.

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Related topics:
Geographies in DepthEconomic Growth
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