When the first edition of Cities of Opportunity was developed, we made a decision to rank cities only in their 10 indicator categories and to forego showing overall rankings to avoid the misperception of a contest. That risk seemed especially significant in 2007, when the media cast New York and London in a death match for global capital market kingship.
Over the past decade, mainland Chinese cities have rapidly suburbanized. Fueling the centrifugal movement of people and jobs out of central cities has been rising disposable incomes which allow more housing consumption and not unrelated, private automobile ownership (Ingram, 1998). More and more, Chinese cities are mimicking the suburbanization trends and patterns of the post-World War II United States, the world’s most car-dependent nation.
The sustainability implications of car-oriented suburbanization are cause for concern. Since 1978 when China’s central government introduced its open-door policy of economic form, urban population has grown from 80 million to more than 560 million, an annual growth rate of 7.5% (Lin, 2002; Zhang, 2007). Vehicle ownership has increased at more than twice this rate. In Shanghai, the number of registered private automobiles jumped from 200,000 in 1991 to 1.4 million in 2002 (Zhang, 2007).
Urban China’s swift pace of peripheral…