Our friends at Business Insider recently released a series of time-lapse GIFs of Chinese cities—and no, this is not just another time-lapse video of Pudong. These GIFs are compilations of satellite images recorded over time by Google’s Earth Engine, giving us a bird’s-eye view of the insane speed of China’s (reasonably) recent urbanization. Below are three of our favorites, but check out the original article for even more Modern-China-porn.
Our namesake and hometown Shanghai, China’s financial center and most cosmopolitan city, is the world’s sixth-largest “mega city” — meaning it contains an urban population of over 500,000. With a population of around 23 million (a growth rate of around 38% from 2000’s 16.7 million), it is also the largest city proper by population in the world. It recently surpassed New York to become the world’s 21st most expensive city in the world, and its perpetually power-hungry officials are also vying to host the 2028 Olympics.
The fastest growing Chinese city in recent years, Chongqing has seen an average rate of 15% growth each year between 2007 and 2012, with its economy increasing from 1998’s $23 billion to a cool $83 billion in 2012. Created as a special municipality in 1997, much of Chongqing’s growth has been credited to the Chongqing model, which was helmed mostly by recently life-sentenced official Bo Xilai and characterized as increased state control over the economy and the promotion of a new “red culture” aimed at a resurgence of Maoist-era ethics.
Also known as “Coconut City”, Haikou, the capital of China’s smallest and southernmost province Hainan, was originally exclusively a port city, but such state-issued reforms including the establishment of a free trade zone in 1992 has helped boost its population from 331,000 in 1990 to nearly 1.6 million in 2010, with expectations of growth surpassing two million by 2025 (which would make a whopping 524% increase from 1990’s population). Through this rapid expansion, Haikou has also managed to keep its head above pollution, as one of only three cities in China in 2010 able to meet national air quality standards.
By Alex Stevens