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March 15, 2012

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Shanghai lags Beijing on city competitiveness

SHANGHAI lagged behind Beijing as the second-most competitive city on the Chinese mainland in a ranking released yesterday.

The report, "Hot Spots: Benchmarking Global City Competitiveness," released by the Economist Intelligence Unit, put Shanghai in 43rd spot worldwide while Beijing placed 39th. Shenzhen was 52nd in the global ranking, making it the third-most competitive city on the Chinese mainland.

Some 120 cities were assessed on 31 indicators grouped under eight categories - economic strength, human capital, institutional effectiveness, financial maturity, global appeal, physical capital, environment and natural hazards, and social and cultural character.

European and United States cities are the world's most competitive, with New York rated first and London second. But Asia's economic rise is also reflected on the list.

"No city can hold an absolute advantage in every dimension that could matter to a prospective investor," the report said.

Chinese cities dominated the economic growth index, but lagged behind in the environmental protection and cultural development indexes.

China's Tianjin, Shenzhen and Dalian topped the "economic strength" category, which emphasizes a city's overall GDP, growth rate and relative income. Shanghai was seventh.

"Shanghai's investment growth and GDP growth are lower than the national average, as it has been a very mature city in economic development compared with some second- and third-tier cities," said Chen Xian, an economics professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Chinese cities' rapid development is being achieved at the cost of the environment, the report said.

In the "environment and natural hazards" table, Shanghai ranked 72nd, lagging behind some second-tier cities, including Suzhou.

"Domestic metropolises, such as Shanghai with more than 20 million residents, are deeply plagued by air and water pollution," Chen said.

In the "social and cultural character" table, Shanghai stood in 73rd place, tied with Beijing.

"Locals read few books and seldom go to theaters in a year," Chen said.

Chinese cities ranked near the bottom in "institutional effectiveness," which values government's fiscal autonomy and government effectiveness. Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen tied for the 95th spot.

"Infrastructure investments will drive emerging market growth, but more will be needed to secure their attractiveness to tomorrow's talent ... including education, quality of life, and personal freedoms, among other things," the report said.


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