Guangzhou’s population grew by the most residents among all Chinese cities in 2016, with an increase of 542,000 people. In recent years Guangzhou has wooed an increasing number of giant enterprises and rolled out the welcome mat to talented individuals all over the world, which might account for the influx of new residents.
Population is an important indicator measuring the potential growth and habitability of a city. And the fact that Guangzhou leads China in population growth in terms of both permanent resident and permanent migrant shows its advantages in these two aspects, according to Hu Gang, a professor with Jinan University.
The city’s permanent population reached 14 million in 2016.
Huangpu district saw the quickest growth of permanent residents with an increase of 184,000 residents — four times that for all of Shanghai, as a result of the establishment there of an industry-city integrated demonstration zone. Baiyun district remains the most densely populated with 2.4 million residents, accounting for over one-sixth of the whole city, according to the Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Statistics.
People are drawn to Guangzhou for multiple reasons.
Guangzhou has dedicated itself to building three strategic hubs in terms of international shipping, aviation and technological innovation with an improving investment and entrepreneurial environment. Local official data show that the GDP of Guangzhou last year reached 1.96 trillion yuan, an increase of 8.2 percent over 2015 which was higher than the national average of 6.7 percent.
Guangzhou has topped Forbes' list of China's best cities for business for three times in the past five years and thus become a hotbed for capital and business. Eyeing the special advantages of Guangzhou, more business giants have headquartered here, including COSCO, Cisco Innovation Center in China, GE Biological Industry Park and Foxconn Industry Park. The gathering of the enterprises makes Guangzhou a magnet for talents. COSCO brought 18,000 workers and Foxconn followed with a high-caliber staff of 15,000.
Meanwhile, Guangzhou has rolled out a series of privileged policies to capture high-caliber talents through inducements in housing, living and working conditions, even offering some people subsidies for moving here. Early in 2016, Guangzhou issued a document for modern industrial personnel, offering rewards, green cards and other enticements to the highly talented.
“Besides its development potential, people value the habitability of a city for its environment, climate and housing price, to name a few [benefits],” Hu said. “And Guangzhou is superior to Beijing and Shanghai in these aspects.”
In addition, Guangzhou pours effort into improving its education and medical services. In 2016, 129 primary and high schools were expanded and 20,000 places for students were added. The life span of local residents is soon expected to reach 81.72, thanks at least in part to improved primary-level medical and health care institutions.
Another bit of evidence of habitability is that Guangzhou ranked first in Human Development Index nationwide, according to the China Sustainable Cities Report 2016 released by the United Nations Development Program. The index serves as an indicator assessing sustainable development on human welfare, per capita life expectancy, educational investment and per capita GDP.
(By Zoe Xu, Louis Berney)