China's New Urban Frontier: Chongqing
NEW YORK, April 27, 2011 - The explosive growth of Chongqing, a major city in southwest China, has generated immense interest for what it suggests about
China's model of development, and for what it implies about further Chinese
Forbes.com columnist Gordon Chang moderated a panel discussion among Albert Chan, Director of Development
Planning and Design at Shui On Group, Qiu Shujie, Vice Chief Architect of
Chongqing Urban Planning Bureau, and Mahadev Raman, Chairman of Arup Americas. The program was the fourth in Asia Society's series Remaking the Chinese City.
The panel focused on the
factors spurring Chongqing's rapid urbanization, in particular the central government's "Go West" campaign to develop its western frontier — a
state-led model of development that is unique to China.
A second factor at work in Chongqing is what one panelist called a
"fascinating interplay between private developers and municipal governments."
"Looking at the conditions in China," Raman said,
"the sheer volume of what needs to be developed, it is very clear that the
public sector cannot do it by itself and the private sector has to step in to
keep the pace going."
Raman added, however, that "the public
sector has a very important role to play" in developing the infrastructure that enables development. "This includes transportation, sanitation, water supplies, and energy
But whatever the prospects for further
development in China, one of the concurrent challenges of urbanization is protecting the environment.
According to Chan, "China is industrializing, it
will become the factory of the world, and pollution is inherent in
industrialization." He added that the specific challenge then becomes reducing the level of carbon emissions per capita.
That will be no easy task. According to Qiu, environmental protections
require coherent and extensive coordination between different government
departments to ensure new projects adhere to strict
Despite these challenges, all three panelists were confident in the
power of the central government to effect necessary change, claiming "once the government wants to
do something, they are able to do it."
Reported by Diana Choi