Asian style

Read in China Digital Times of 26 June 2014:


What the Russians are trying to do in and around Greater Moscow (17 million inhabitants), the Chinese are doing even on a grander scale with Beijing (22 million inhabitants): building an Asian megalopolis. I remember the session in the Intercontinental Hotel in Moscow in April 2012, when a delegation from the Chinese capital informed the Russians about their plans to transform Beijing into a city of 110 million inhabitants. We were all perplexed. Since then president Mr. Xi Jinping took over. He changed the policy of the Hu-Wen administration, which was focused on accelerating development in the inland regions (‘Go West’), and called for integrated, coordinated development of the region around Beijing. This megalopolis will become the third economic power house of China, after Shanghai’s Yangtze River Delta and the Guangzhou’s Pearl River Delta, two spatial-political products of Den Xiaoping’s administration in the 1980’s. Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province are collaborating now on a huge scale, it’s a daring experiment of the new leadership all the rest of the world should have a closer look at.

Just imagine the European Union would force the Netherlands to collaborate with the Belgians and the government of Germany to build a World City out of the triangle Amsterdam-Brussels-Cologne: a megalopolis of more than 60 million inhabitants, doubling its size the coming twenty years thanks to migration from the Middle East. Schemes of densification of the extremely distributed suburban landscape would aim the creation of an economic power house on the North-Western shores of Europe, comparable to Greater London (10 million) and Ile de France (12 million). It will never happen of course. This is Europe, not Asia. But maybe Mr. Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, aiming economic growth as well as sustainability, will at least come up with a proposal to transform the Dutch fragmented suburban landscape into a densily built city-state of 17 million inhabitants. How will the nation react? Negative, I suppose. It will happen anyway.



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