"China’s urbanization is a marvel. The population of its cities has quintupled over the past 40 years, reaching 813m. By 2030 roughly one in five of the world’s city-dwellers will be Chinese. But this mushrooming is not without its flaws. Restraining pell-mell urbanization may sound like a good thing, but it worries the government’s economists, since bigger cities are associated with higher productivity and faster economic growth. Hence a new plan to remake the country’s map.
The idea is to foster the rise of mammoth urban clusters, anchored around giant hubs and containing dozens of smaller, but by no means small, nearby cities. The plan calls for 19 clusters in all, which would account for nine-tenths of economic activity (see map). China would, in effect, condense into a country of super-regions."
This type of plan would have been politically and economically unthinkable in years past, but the time-space compression (convergence) has made the distances between cities less of a barrier. High-speed transit in the form of bullet trains link cities to other cities within the cluster more tightly together and the threshold of the functional region expands. While some of these clusters are more aspirational, the top three (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing) are already powerful global forces.