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Major Cities

China had 663 cities by the end of 2000, of which 13 had populations of more than two million each in the urban area; 27, between one and two million; 53, between 500,000 and one million; 218, between 200,000 and 500,000; and 352, less than 200,000. Some of these are industrial cities that burgeoned along with the construction of key state projects, some are port cities with favorable conditions for the opening-up, and some are famous historical and cultural cities.

(Unit: 10,000 persons)

Shanghai 986.2 Beijing 760.7 Chongqing 660.9 Tianjin 532.5 Wuhan 441.1 Harbin 435.0 Shengyang 433.3 Guangzhou 436.1 Chengdu 345.9 Nanjing 309.5 Changchun 287.8 Xi’an 285.8 Dalian 275.4

In the course of city planning, China implements the principle of “strictly controlling the size of large cities, developing medium-sized cities rationally and developing small cities actively.” Medium-sized cities with populations of less than 500,000 and small cities with populations of less than 200,000 grew rapidly from the 1980s. And the large cities with populations of over one million have developed satellite cities and towns in a planned and positive way.

Beijing Beijing is a municipality directly under the Central Government and the capital of the PRC, with an urban population of 7.61 million. It is not only the nation’s political center, but also its cultural, scientific and educational center, and a key transportation hub. Situated on the north edge of the North China Plain, it is sheltered by chains of mountains to the west, north and east. Its southeastern part is a plain. Beijing’s temperate continental climate produces four clearly contrasted seasons: a short spring, rainy and humid summer, long and cold winter, and a very pleasant autumn.

Beijing emerged as a city as far back as the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century-770 B.C.), when it was known as Ji. During the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), it was the capital of the State of Yan. Ji remained a city of strategic importance and a trade center for the north for well over a thousand years. Then, in the early 10th century, it became the secondary capital of the Liao Dynasty under the name of Yanjing. Between 1115 and 1911, it served in succession as the capital of the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, thus becoming a storehouse of Chinese culture, and leaving many superb historical legacies, such as the Tiananmen Gatetower, the symbol of Beijing as well as of China; Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in the world; the former Imperial Palace (the “Forbidden City”), the largest and best-preserved ancient architectural complex in the world; and the Great Wall at Badaling, one of the “seven wonders of the world.” Of these, the former Imperial Palace, the Great Wall, the site of Peking Man at Zhoukoudian, the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven have been put on the World Cultural Heritage list by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Since 1949, when Beijing was designated as the capital of the PRC, especially since the 1980s, the urban construction of Beijing has developed at a high speed and tremendous changes have taken place in the city’s appearance. Now Beijing is really an international metropolis with many broad roads and tall buildings, remaining its feature of an ancient capital and also demonstrating the modern gracefulness.

Shanghai Shanghai, a municipality directly under the Central Government, is China’s largest city, with an urban population of 9.86 million. Advantageously located, Shanghai is halfway down China’s mainland coastline, where the Yangtze River empties into the sea. An important comprehensive industrial base and harbor, Shanghai plays an essential role in the national economy. Major industries include metallurgy, machine-building, shipbuilding, chemicals, electronics, meters, textiles and other light industries, in addition to its highly developed commerce, banking and ocean shipping industry. The Pudong New Zone, separated from the old city by the Huangpu River, is now undergoing vigorous development and construction. The opening and development of the Pudong New Zone is intended to build it, within several decades, into a modern, multi-functional, export-oriented district, on a par with the world’s best. This will lay the foundation for the transformation of Shanghai into an international economic, banking and trade center, and a modern international metropolis.

Tianjin Another municipality directly under the Central Government, Tianjin is a major industrial and commercial city in north China, with an urban population of 5.33 million. About 120 km from Beijing, Tianjin is an important port for ocean and offshore shipping, and foreign trade. Tianjin’s traditional industries include iron and steel, machine-building, chemicals, electric power, textiles, construction materials, paper-making and foodstuffs, plus some rising industries such as shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing, petroleum exploitation and processing, and the production of tractors, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, watches, TVs and cameras.

Chongqing Also a municipality directly under the Central Government, Chongqing is the largest industrial and commercial center in southwest China, and a hub of land and water transportation in the upper Yangtze valley, with an urban population of 6.61 million. Chongqing is a comprehensive industrial city, with advanced iron and steel, chemicals, electric power, automobile manufacturing, machine-building, shipbuilding, construction materials, textiles, foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals industries.

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