China's past 30 years of reforms planted seeds that will in the coming decades produce future coastal megacities, an urban population of one billion and possibly the world’s biggest economy.
“The next 30 years are going to be a critical timetable for addressing all the needs of a large population and how China manages cities,” said James Canton, author of The Extreme Future.
By 2025 China’s urban population is expected to rise to 926 million from 572 million in 2005 —an increase equal to the entire current population of the United States, according to management consultants McKinsey & Company. By 2030 that number will increase to a billion.
Over the next two decades China will build 20,000 to 50,000 new skyscrapers — the equivalent of ten New York cities.
More than 170 cities will need mass transit systems by 2025 — more than twice the number in all of Europe — in what McKinsey described as the “greatest boom in mass-transit in history”.
Chinese cities will leverage their manufacturer strengths to become innovation centres for products like nanotechnology, smart materials and state-of-the-art pharmaceuticals. They will also be home to the world's largest middle class, he said.
As cities become bigger, land reclamation will leave little water between Hong Kong and the mainland, Canton forecasted.