The recent comment from David Cameron that we do more business with Ireland than we do with China – principally because of poor air connections highlights the fact that some of the world’s largest potential business communities remain largely out of reach for the UK.
Some cities in the world grow from small settlements strategically placed for a wealth of natural resources or a particularly good trade route. Others find themselves the centre of a country in the fastest growing economy in the world; welcome to Chongqing – the city which displays the strapline ‘The largest city in the world that you have never heard of’.
Developing at a pace almost too quick for itself, the number of tower cranes alone as you approach the city centre tells you all you need to know; one can almost see the city growing before your eyes.
Since becoming a municipality Chongqing has an economic and political advantage over it’s rivals in Central Western China and yet the growth of Chongqing seems to have little negative effect on it’s neighbours similarly appetite to evolve and develop. They cannot all be winners but the Chinese are determined to build successful cities and economies in all of these locations and not to let one’s success be to the detriment of another.
The central business district of Chongqing has to be considered alongside those of London and Manhattan to see how far the city has come. What has taken New York and the City of London centuries to nurture has been constructed in around ten years. The aerial images of the three cities demonstrate clearly the density which has been achieved whilst the street patterns leave little to the imagination of the nature of the urban environments each city harbours. Chongqing somewhat wrestles with it’s topography and forces roads and new buildings into wherever it likes and ten storey retaining walls are not uncommon.
Meanwhile a population of over 28 million is helping to fuel it’s economic appetite whilst state spending on infrastructure projects is halving travel times from Chonging to other first and second tier cities in China.
Relatively unknown in the western world and with a population larger than Malaysia or Peru, Chongqing is a city unlikely to stay off the radar for much longer.