Chongqing: The Challenges and Difficulties of Rapid Urbanisation


The city of Chongqing, located in the south-west of China, is one of the world’s fastest growing cities in terms of GDP and commercial property development. New construction has added nearly 140,000 square metres daily for both residential and commercial spaces, making it a rapidly urbanising city.

As one of five Municipalities in China, Chongqing has a population of over 30-million people and thrives off its rich natural resources. Once a relatively bland and isolated city, Chongqing is now far from either, and is still undergoing further impressive changes. The city now breathes with the life of skyscrapers, unique architecture and towering apartment blocks that house thousands, almost comparable to a city like Hong Kong.

Brisbane's Sister City

Being Brisbane’s sister city, Chongqing shares exchange and cooperation with Brisbane in regards to science, technology, culture and numerous other areas, which is reflected in the emphasis on the sustainable urbanisation of both cities.

Perhaps a consequence of these growing ties between China and Western countries is a significant shift in architectural aesthetic. President Xi Jinping said that he wanted no more “weird architecture,” seeming to reference the irregular shapes of buildings and structures such as Chongqing’s Yangtze-Jialing bridge that is often called 'sexually suggestive'.

A Concrete Jungle

Regardless of the aesthetic shift, Chongqing’s rate of urbanisation has not waned and continues to develop into an even more diverse concrete jungle. It is fair to scrutinise the  impact of such urbanisation on the environment, the natural resources of the area and the waterways, however it must be noted that 150 billion yuan (US $24 billion) has been invested in environmental pollution control.

Huang Qifan, the Mayor of Chongqing, said “Chongqing has completely shaken off the name ‘fog city”, and outdated production sites such as steel mills and cement production plants have been closed down. Both industry and transport have also been moved towards the use of clean energy.

Given the growing numbers as a result of the urbanisation, transport has become a major relational issue in terms of the impact on the environment.

However, the Mayor explained that “all coal-fired boilers use natural gas instead and the transformation to CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) has been implemented for nearly 30,000 buses and taxis with 150,000 old vehicles taken off the roads, and as a result, the urban clean energy utilisation rate has reached 95 per cent”.

They still face the challenges and difficulties of combining further infrastructure developments with environmentally-friendly practices, but the Mayor believes that “low carbon, green ecology must become the distinctive feature of Chongqing’s urbanisation”.

While the urbanisation of Chongqing continues to grow, so should the accessibility of clean, sustainable practices.

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