Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Evolving Network of Cities


中文 | English


  • ​​
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

China’s Evolving Network of Cities

JLL's City Evolution Curve

Since launching the China Cities Research Programme in 2006, JLL has built a framework – our City Evolution Curve – to assess the relative positions of cities in their economic and property market evolution. Our aim is to chart the forward progress of each city and its property market towards maturity. Each of the China60 cities has been allocated to one of several tiers (from 'Tier 1.5' through to 'Tier 3 Early Adopter'), based on an analysis of a range of economic, business and property indicators. ​​​​​

China60 City Evolution Curve

China60 City Evolution Curve

City Evolution Curve

Cities are positioned on our City Evolution Curve based on a combination of Economic and Property Indicators.

Economy Index

Economic size and growth; population;wealth; infrastructure; exports; FDI and fixed investment; education; business environment.

Property Index

Real estate investment volumes; office, retail and logistics stock; developer activity; corporate presence; retailer presence; internationallybranded hotels.

What does the 2015 City Evolution Curve reveal?

The 2015 City Evolution Curve reveals a China city hierarchy that is showing signs of stability, with fewer major shifts between city tiers than in previous updates. It is also becoming a more complex urban network. The rise of mega city-regions in China's most densely-populated areas is creating huge systems of interdependent cities that are adding an extra layer of complexity to the evolving mosaic of Chinese cities. ​​​​​

China's Alpha cities have separated from the pack

Shanghai and Beijing – China's Alpha cities - have established and maintained considerable 'distance' from the China60. This duo is leading the way in building platforms to attract international talent, business and investors. Their depth of talent, international business services, extensive global connectivity and broad cultural assets positions them among the world's top 10 city economies in terms of commercial attraction. ​​​​​

China's 'New World-Cities'

China's Tier 1 cities - Guangzhou and Shenzhen – are undergoing profound restructuring as the well-established hubs of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) mega city-region of 41 million people. The potency of this pair is heavily linked to their connectivity with Hong Kong, and their industrial sector maturity and softer attributes put them in a robust position for further advancement. Shenzhen, for example, is in the World's Top 5 in JLL's 2015 City Momentum Index due to its strengths in technology, dynamic financial sector and status as one of China's more environmentally sustainable cities. ​​​​​

Tier 1.5 cities cement their positions in the hierarchy

China60's Tier 1.5 cities have cemented their positions as thriving regional commercial hubs and have extended their lead over Tier 2 cities. These nine cities (Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenyang, Suzhou, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xi'an) are now firmly on the international map and are developing their global profiles. ​​​​​

As predicted in our China50 update, Xi'an has moved into the Tier 1.5 category in 2015, having registered one of the greatest improvements since 2012 as the city consolidates its position as a regional powerhouse for the Northwest region. Meanwhile, Wuhan, the main regional hub for Central China, has shown the largest improvement in property scores. Chengdu and Tianjin have retained their top positions in the Tier 1.5 category. ​​​​​

West and Central China cities show greatest progress

China's West and Central cities in general have shown the greatest advancement on the City Evolution Curve since 2012, reflecting a combination of government policy, infrastructure investment and the continued shift inland in the balance of economic activity. Xi'an (Northwest), Guiyang and Kunming (Southwest), and Zhengzhou and Shijiazhuang (Central) are noteworthy improvers. ​​​​​

Southeast coastal cities improve

While inland China cities have outperformed coastal cities, the trend for top improvers is more ambiguous than in previous updates with (for example) several Southeast coastal cities, such as Wenzhou and Xiamen, demonstrating among the fastest economic progress due to improving external demand and an upgrading of their industrial structures.​​​​​

The Rise of Mega City-Regions

China60 highlights the emergence of increasingly complex systems of cities, often clustered around regional powerhouses and united by dense webs of infrastructure and symbiotic economic relationships. The trend is most advanced in the Yangtze River Delta (centred on Shanghai) and the Pearl River Delta (centred on Guangzhou and Shenzhen), which each have populations larger than Tokyo:​​​​​

Yangtze River Delta

  • The YRD cities (with a combined population of 50 million) have made the greatest economic and real estate advancements since 2012, reflecting the predominance of dynamic private enterprises, advanced supply chains and superior intra-regional connectivity.

Pearl River Delta

  • PRD cities feature prominently in the China60, with a combined population of 41 million (covering the Tier 1 cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, together with Dongguan, Foshan, Zhuhai and Zhongshan). Improving intra-regional connectivity (particularly with neighbouring Hong Kong and Macau), a strengthening technology base and superior 'quality of life' and air quality measures put this mega city-region in a good position for future progress.

Capital Economic Region

  • The area around Beijing and Tianjin is relatively less integrated; although a recently-announced plan to bring together the two municipalities with cities of the surrounding Hebei Province (Shijiazhuang and Tangshan) signals ambitions to achieve significant regional development here as well.​​
  • ​​
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​