Like moths to a flame, the human population of the world continues to swarm to the bright lights.
Two hundred years ago, less than 5% were classed “urban”. By 2010 the number topped 50% worldwide, and by 2050, “more than 70% of us will class ourselves as city dwellers”, writes Vanessa Collingridge in a three-part series for the South China Morning Post on “the megacities of Asia”.
Growth is concentrated in Asia. “In 2010, just nine of the world’s megacities were located in Asia; scroll forward 15 years and 21 of the projected 39 megacities will be situated here, with the biggest growth in population expected to take place in the new or lesser-known cities in South and East Asia.”
Less than an hour from Hong Kong on the mainland is Qianhai, a new designated economic zone (to give it is full name: the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone) on the coast of Shenzhen intended to “weld Hong Kong and the mainland together”.
It has been dubbed “the Manhattan of the East”, and represents “a nascent competitor to the global greats of Hong Kong’s Central, Wall Street and the City of London”.
The city’s “wider importance”, Collingridge writes, “lies in “ joining up the dots of the Pearl River Delta, creating the world’s largest conurbation, with a population estimated by the United Nations to be an almost inconceivable 120 million people”.
The new frontiers of urban growth are the so-called massive “meta-cities”, she says, such as Beijing and Shanghai, and other “giant cities blending into one another creating an entirely new breed of urban space” – megacities becoming “megaclusters” or “megaregions”.