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City clusters help promote regional development, experts say

Updated: Jun 21,2016 4:16 PM Daily

As the development of a single city becomes more limited in China, city clusters can produce cooperative effects for development, and will be the new carriers to break regional unbalance and promote regional coordinated development, said experts.

Recently, several city cluster plans were released, including the Yangtze River Delta city cluster, Chengdu-Chongqing city cluster and Harbin-Changchun megalopolis plan. The 13th Five-Year Plan also regarded the city cluster development plan as one of the main measures to optimize the urbanization model in China.

In addition to the three clusters, the 13th Five-Year Plan includes creating more city clusters in central and western China to promote local development.

Building city clusters can help the interconnectivity of different regions, boost the sharing development of cities in the cluster, and allow the cities to clearly take their own approach according to their own advantages, said Yang Zhihuang, a researcher in at Co-Innovation Center for State Governance.

Yang expressed that in an approved cluster plan, each involved city has its own functions and positions, so each city has its own development direction, which not only solves the different problems each city faces, but also allows cities to take advantage of their own resources, talent and geographical positions.

In the three released city cluster plans, each has its leading city, such as Shanghai in the Yangtze River Delta, Chongqing and Chengdu in the Chengdu-Chongqing city cluster and Harbin and Changchun in the third one.

Yang believes the leading cities will be a demonstration zone for the development of the whole city cluster, but the surrounding cities must also use their own advantages and disadvantages, and develop in coordination.

City clusters are not simply for cities that are physically located in adjacent positions, but are complementary in functions, cooperate in industry economy, sharing in public services and infrastructure and coordinate in resource utilization and construction of ecological environment, according to Fan Jie, a professor from the Chinese Academy of Science.

He said the development model city cluster is in line with the basic characteristics of China’s resource supporting capacity.