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Connecting Global Cities: Asia's Global Cities

Mar 16, 2017 10:30:00 AM / by 'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

“Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai.

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This is the third in a series about how globalization is under threat from the west while Asian countries have become the leading advocates for globalization.

Since globalization is spurred on through the connections between global cities, this trend is seen in the rise of Asian mega cities in the Global Cities Index (GCI). See my column on the background to this index first compiled every two years since 2008 by A.T. Kearny consultants. 

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Photo: London (public domain)

It is not easy to get into this list which now is published every year and contains 125 recognized global cities. Here are the considerations that arise:

"The A.T. Kearney Global Cities Index (GCI) ranks 125 cities according to 27 metrics across five dimensions, including business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement."

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Photo: Bangkok - a rising Asian global city by Colin Speakman 

The top three global cities are all in the west for historical reasons - CAPA's London, New York and Paris - and these three have occupied the top three places since the start of the GCI (though London swapped places with New York for 2016).

However, the next two in the list are in Asia. These are Tokyo and Hong Kong and there are six Asian cities in the top twenty where we find also Singapore, Beijing, Seoul and CAPA's Shanghai.  

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Photo: Shanghai, one of Asia's shining lights - The Shanghai Tower by Colin Speakman 

What might surprise you more is the next fact; while Europe has a large number of countries and 28 are currently connected by membership of the EU, the long established and relatively mature continent (with the British Isles) has 24 global cities whereas the Asia-Pacific region has double that number at 48. Asia alone has 46 of them with Australia contributing CAPA's Sydney and its friendly rival, Melbourne. 

The North American neighbors - Canada and the USA - have 15; Latin America, including Mexico, has 14; the African Continent has 13; and the Middle East has 11. We can see the list of the 48 Asia Pacific global cities below. 

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Image: Asia Pacific global cities 2016 courtesy of A. T. Kearney public documents

Astonishingly, 20 of the Asian global cities come from one country: China. This is all the more remarkable when we reflect that in the first three decades of the Peoples' Republic of China, the country was isolated from most of the western world and with limited connectivity to international markets and international finance. 

So the rise of the prominence of Asian global cities is a recent phenomenon and a powerful reason why writers believe that this will be Asia's Century, led by China. My personal view is that there are even more Asian cities bubbling under the threshold and we will soon see over 50 listed. China alone plans to move 250 million of its population from rural areas into cities in the next decade. That will surely create more global mega cities. Asia - the title is yours to lose! 

Thanks Colin!

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Topics: Global Cities