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35 Chinese Cities With Economies as Big as Countries

7 MINS READNov 15, 2017 | 09:30 GMT
In 2015, the Chinese city of Nanjing's gross domestic product was $272 billion, comparable to that of the entire country of Denmark.
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By Jeff Desjardins for Visual Capitalist

35 Chinese Cities With Economies as Big as Countries

Gaining perspective on China's monstrous economy isn't always the easiest thing to do.

With 1.4 billion people and the third-largest geographical area, the country is a vast place to begin with. Add in explosive economic growth, a market-oriented but Communist government, a longstanding and complex cultural history, and self-inflicted demographic challenges — and understanding China can be even more of a puzzle.

City by City

To truly grasp the emergence of China, one approach is to look at the impressive economic footprint made by the country's cities.

Of course, cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong are the metro economic powerhouses that most people are familiar with. But have you heard of cities like Shijiazhuang, Wuxi, Changsha, Suzhou, Ningbo, Foshan, or Yantai?

There are literally dozens of Chinese cities that most people in Western countries have never heard of — yet they each hold millions of people and have an economic output comparable to nations.

Here's a list of 35 of them, the size of their local economy, and a comparably sized national economy:

Rank   Chinese City   GDP (2015, PPP, in billions)            Comparable Country

  1.   Shanghai        $810                                                  Philippines
  2.   Beijing           $664                                                  U.A.E.
  3.   Guangzhou    $524                                                   Switzerland
  4.   Shenzhen       $491                                                   Sweden
  5.   Tianjin           $478                                                   Romania
  6.   Suzhou           $440                                                  Austria
  7.   Chongqing     $425                                                   Chile
  8.   Hong Kong    $414                                                   Peru
  9.   Wuhan            $324                                                  Israel
  10.   Chengdu         $306                                                  Norway
  11.   Hangzhou       $275                                                  Greece
  12.   Nanjing           $272                                                 Denmark
  13.   Wuxi               $270                                                 Morocco
  14.   Qingdao          $266                                                 Hungary
  15.   Changsha        $246                                                 Sri Lanka
  16.   Dalian             $245                                                 Finland
  17.   Foshan            $235                                                 Uzbekistan
  18.   Ningbo            $233                                                 Angola
  19.   Shenyang        $230                                                 Sudan
  20.   Zhengzhou      $210                                                 Ecuador
  21.   Tangshan         $191                                                New Zealand
  22.   Dongguan        $186                                                Ethiopia
  23.   Yantai              $184                                                Belarus
  24.   Jinan                $174                                                Azerbaijan
  25.   Nantong           $170                                                Slovakia
  26.   Changchun      $163                                                Dominican Republic
  27.   Xi'an                $161                                                Kenya
  28.   Fuzhou             $160                                               Tanzania
  29.   Harbin              $159                                               Bulgaria
  30.   Hefei                $157                                               Tunisia
  31.   Shijiazhuang    $156                                               Guatemala
  32.   Xuzhou            $150                                               Ghana
  33.   Changzhou       $147                                               Serbia
  34.   Wenzhou          $131                                               Croatia
  35.   Zibo                 $123                                               Panama

Megaregions

It's also important to remember that these cities don't exist in isolation, and are instead cogs in the wheels of larger megaregions. Such areas would be comparable to the Northeast U.S., in which New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. are all hours apart and remain largely integrated as a regional economy.

In China, there are three main megaregions worth noting:

Yangtze River Delta

With a combined GDP of $2.17 trillion, which is comparable to Italy, the Yangtze River Delta contains cities like Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Wuxi, Ningbo, and Changzhou.

Pearl River Delta

With a combined GDP of $1.89 trillion, which is comparable to South Korea, the Pearl River Delta has cities like Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Dongguan, and Macao.

Beijing-Tianjin

With a combined GDP of $1.14 trillion, which is comparable to Australia, this megaregion holds the two largest cities in northern China, Beijing and Tianjin. The two cities are a 30-minute bullet train ride apart.

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