36 indices for a global city
Including the number of universities on the top-500 list
On the morning of July 15, the establishment ceremony for the Beijing Center for Global Cities Research was held at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences. Now, Beijing has decided to use 36 indices to evaluate its internationalization because these indices have set a standard for global cities and can help us determine if Beijing is a global city.
According to Tang Xin, secretary-general of the Beijing Center for Global Cities Research, which serves as a think tank for the Beijing Municipal Government, the center will integrate all kinds of academic and government resources and provide proposals on how to build Beijing into an global city.
The indices cover three aspects: overall strength, relevant status and logistical conditions. The overall strength refers to hard power including GDP and added value of the financial and modern manufacturing sectors, as well as soft power including number of patents and number of universities on the world’s top-500 list; relevant status refers to the economic, political, cultural and information status of these various sectors; logistical conditions refer to a city’s dynamics, capacity for innovation, and livability. Experts said that livability mainly involves measuring the rate of traffic accidents, the number of physicians per 10,000 people and the number of days with good weather.
Tang added that Beijing now only lists the indices that it will measure and it will gather relevant historical data from New York, London, Tokyo and other cities from the past decade in order to quantify these indices.
Beijing should not focus only on the economy
On July 15, relevant experts from the Beijing Center for Global Cities Research expressed their viewpoints on whether or not we can construct Beijing into a global city by taking a unique path. There is not a unified pattern for global cities and some global cities such as New York and London have their own very unique characteristics. Beijing is one of the cities that perfectly embodies Chinese culture and we should take advantage of Beijing’s cultural elements and not attach too much importance to economic factors in the process of constructing Beijing into an global city.
The base will facilitate the publication of research findings
Question: What are the main functions of the base and how will you manage to publish the research findings?
Answer: Different research groups will do research work relatively independently in our base. We will send excellent research and administrative staff to global cities such as London to conduct investigations in September. Currently, the base is engaged in a municipal-level research program titled Research of Beijing’s Internationalization Strategy. In addition, the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences is now working on some programs concerned with Beijing’s different characteristics at different stages in the move towards internationalization and what Beijing should focus on at these different stages. We will see preliminary results from these programs in August or September and these results will be included into the 12th Five-Year Plan for Beijing.
Some officials from the municipal Party committee and municipal government are currently acting as special researchers with the base, so it is therefore more convenient to coordinate and cooperate with the researchers in a practical application environment. It will improve work efficiency and largely shorten the lag time from research to a finished, practical application.
Striving to be a global city is not a fantasy
Question: Some people say it is pure fantasy for Beijing to want to be a global city. What is your opinion?
Answer: Some people believe that it is pure fantasy for Beijing to be a global city due to the fact that the strength of China and the city itself are far behind the world’s top level. However, a city’s status in the world depends on its overall strength and network status, as well as some indispensable logistical factors. While it is very difficult to make a tremendous leap forward in overall strength, a city’s network status can be greatly improved in a short period of time by its own special operation and changes in its environment. For example, Hong Kong and Singapore have become major global cities by taking advantage of the Chinese mainland and Southeast Asia, respectively. Along with the transfer of the world economic center and the improvement of China’s overall strength, Beijing has actually become an ever more important player in the network of global cities. According to relevant assessments, Beijing’s rank among global cities has risen rapidly from about 30 or 40 a few years ago to a current ranking in the top-10. Therefore becoming a global city is an achievable goal for Beijing.
A global city is different from an international city
Question: Some people believe that a global city is just a copy of an international city. What is your opinion?
Answer: The international city development boom in the last century happened at the beginning of China’s reform and opening up period. In a period personified by the introduction of foreign capital and technology, urban construction also followed a foreign style. A city with lots of foreigners and foreign enterprises and even foreign-style architecture was seen as an international city. However, along with the development of globalization, the world urban system has presented an apparent hierarchical structure with several cities with the most influence and control on the top of the pyramid hierarchy, and those are called the global cities. While becoming an international city is an “entrance” strategy for those that seek to integrate themselves into the global urban system, becoming a global city is an “exit” strategy for a city that seeks to improve its status in the global urban system as well as strengthen its influence and control on other cities. Instead of being satisfied with being passively influenced by internationalization, Beijing is considering how to strengthen its influence as it is in the process of globalization. At this point, we can say the global city is simply a higher form of international city.