Impression of Guangzhou: Recession Lessens, Future Bright
    2009-12-22 11:14:17      Web Editor: Zhang

A bird's eye view of Guangzhou. The city's financial office is expecting the city's economic drop to narrow to a single figure in December this year. [Photo: Swire]

By Dominic Swire

A visit to Guangzhou is a real glimpse inside the economic success story of china over the last decade. The city -- which boasts a population of over10 million- is the capital of Guangdong, one of the fastest row in provinces in China. And that's saying something when you consider the country has been the world's most rapidly developing country for much of the last decade.

Looking on a map, Guangdong does not look so impressive. The province just covers a small fraction of the country on china's southeast coast. But this area accounts for a population of over 95 million, more than the Philippines, which is the world's 12th most populous country. It also generated a GDP of in excess of 520 billion dollars last year, on par with Poland, one of the largest countries in Europe.

One of the reasons for this meteoric growth is the Pearl River, china's third longest, which runs through the centre of the city and is responsible for much of the province's trade. Taking an evening boat trip here is not only a pleasant activity to undertake, it also illustrates the astonishing growth the metropolis has seen over the last few years. On either side of the water towering Skyscrapers decked out in neon-lights seem to compete with each other to see which can display the most flamboyant designs. There are bridges lit up by spotlights and new lass and steel developments proudly look in down on the boats that pass by.

But one building was not covered in light. This was an old hotel built in the 1930s with a flat facade and a small turret at the top. The building is approximately 12 stories high and at the time of being built was the tallest building in the city. Now, as a sin of the process of recent years, it looks one of the smallest dwarfed on either side by tower blocks almost twice its height.

However, despite the rapid changes, the city was hit hard during the recent global financial crisis, as much of Guangzhou's economy is driven by foreign exports and demand from abroad slowed down. Local officials said the city's GDP was down -26% on year in the first quarter this year. Things are still not perfect but they are looking less worse.

Latest figures for September and October show the drop lessen to just-10%, and the cities financial office is expecting the drop to narrow to a single figure in December this year.

Yet such negative figures have done little to shake the ambitious development plans for the city and the wider reign over the next few years.

At a press conference held exclusively for CRI, officials announced plans to join Guangzhou with neighboring cities, Foshan and Zhaoqing, both of which have populations of over one million.

The move is expected to increase efficiency of planning for all three locations. On top of this, China has recently initiated a major project to build what will be the longest sea bridge in the world stretching 50km and connecting Macao, Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta. Due for completion in2016, the new development should significantly boost trade within the region

Experts project that by 2020 more than 200 million vehicles per year will be using the bridge with the new development generating over 3.5 billion dollars during its first 20 years.

The Chinese government will certainly be hoping they will be able to reap such rewards as at around 10.7 billion dollars, the price tag of this historic project does not come cheap.


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