What’s the Deal With PRD Megacity

02_15_WTDWPerhaps many still remember the reports that went viral in 2011 claiming nine cities in the Pearl River Delta including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Foshan would merge into the world’s biggest city. Although it was debunked two days later by the provincial party committee, the differences in infrastructure and public services are steadily dwindling. As the provincial government breaks barriers to economic and social integration for the region, the rumor may no longer be groundless.

In January, a report by the World Bank, East Asia’s Changing Urban Landscape: Measuring a Decade of Spatial Growth, utilized satellite imagery and geospatial mapping to define urban areas and populations in East Asia. The maps at latest census statistics show that the PRD has overtaken Tokyo as the world’s largest urban area.

During the two sessions (the National People’s Conference and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) of 2013 and 2014, a megacity of Dongguan, Shenzhen and Huizhou has been suggested by representatives to quicken the pace of urbanization for Huizhou and Dongguan. Historically, the region belonged to the Huiyang District from 1956 to 1979.

At the end of 2008, an outline plan for the reform and development of the PRD (2008-2020) was approved by the State Department, pointing out the goal of regional integration. The following year, a more detailed master plan was released by the province for the implementation of “five integrations” in infrastructure, industrial layout, public services, urban planning and environmental protection. The PRD region is planned to develop as a single entity more efficiently.

The intercity railway system in the PRD area is one example of the integration. By 2030, an intercity railway system that covers all administrative units above the county level will be finished. By 2020, the price of gasoline, natural gas and electricity should equalize with a single provider; long-distance phone charges and bank withdrawal fees should be canceled in the PRD.