In China: A City is not a City

Re: China’s Perplexing Housing Boom (Daily Telegraph)http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peterfoster/100052170/chinas-perplexing-property-boom/

Comment on the Article….

The Chinese residential property market is most interesting and there is a wide range of opinion, from alarmists to those who think things are not quite as bad as some have portrayed (I have written on this at http://www.newgeography.com/content/001733-chinas-sliver-a-housing-bubble). What you have seen in Linyi can be observed in most of China’s large urban areas.

My reason for writing is semantic and demographic. Writers, including you,, frequently use the term "city" to describe what are really prefectures (though the translation is incorrectly city). That is not so much a problem until you ascribe a population… In the case of Linyi, you use 10 million. That is a big city … and a lot bigger than Linyi. The city (prefecture) of Linyi covers a land area greater than that of the East Midlands. The city/prefecture of Linyi is composed of 12 counties, which are largely rural. No city in the world as it is understood in English covers nearly that much land area. In fact, the UN agglomeration database shows the present population of Linyi (metropolitan area, their estimates include large rural areas in urban counties http://esa.un.org/unpd/wup/unup/index_panel2.html) at about 1.4 million.

Virtually all of China is divided into these city/prefectures, which contain far more in rural land than urban land (even the city/province of Shanghai). It is rather like Great Britain, which was historically divided into counties… counties are not cities, neither are prefectures.

Best regards,

Wendell Cox

Principal, Demographia

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