Cities in China: Recipes for Economic Development in the Reform Era

By Jae Ho Chung | Go to book overview

8

Institutional constraints, leadership and development strategies

Panyu and Nanhai under reform

Lam Tao-chiu


Introduction

This chapter studies two fast-developing county-level cities, Nanhai and Panyu, in the inner Pearl River Delta (see Map 8.1) in Guangdong province. They were formerly counties, but following the policy of abolishing counties and establishing cities in the more developed localities, they gained county-level city status in 1992. 1 County-level cities are at the lowest level in China's hierarchy of cities. As more counties in China gain city status, we may have considerable difficulty understanding China's level of urbanization. 2 However, many of the count-level cities are basically rural communities with substantial rural populations. Nanhai and Panyu are also basically rural communities, but they are different from the average county-level cities in the country in that the rapid industrialization and economic growth in the past two decades have quickly set in train a process of rapid urbanization. This introductory section sets out the rationale behind selecting these two localities for analysis and discusses the analytical foci of this chapter and how this analysis is relevant to understanding local economic development in China in the reform period.


Why Nanhai and Panyu?

Nanhai and Panyu are clearly not average Chinese counties or county-level cities. They are far more industrialized and economically developed than most localities in China. In a survey about the 'integrated strength' (zhonghe shili) of the 100 most prosperous counties by the State Statistics Bureau in July 1992, Nanhai ranked fourth nationally (trailing only a few counties in Jiangsu Province) and first in Guangdong Province. Panyu stood at the thirtieth position nationally. Within Guangdong, it ranked only behind Nanhai, Shunde and Chaoyang. 3 This survey measured China's counties and county-level cities along a number of indicators, including the degree of industrialization and the development of township and village enterprises, improvement in people's livelihood and other aspects reflecting integrated socio-economic development. 4 Another measure of the atypicality of the two cases is the rankings of their budgetary revenue both in China and in Guangdong Province. The budgetary revenue of Nanhai has consistently been the

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