The CHART OF THE DAY tracks the gross domestic product of the four municipalities in billions of U.S. dollars starting in 2005. Shanghai overtook Hong Kong in 2009. Beijing did likewise in 2011. Tianjin’s move is based on last year’s growth rate of 11.5 percent and average estimates for Hong Kong’s GDP and the Chinese yuan in Bloomberg surveys. Ten years ago, Tianjin’s economy was about one quarter the former British colony’s size.
“It’s got ports, it’s got oil, it’s got a bit of everything, while Hong Kong is basically a trading post with finance and the services,” said James McGregor, greater China chairman for advisory firm APCO Worldwide Inc. “It’s just another look at the scale of China and the incredible urbanization and the growth of the cities.”
Tianjin, with about 14 million people, or twice Hong Kong’s population, is a shipping hub for commodities and a growing manufacturing site. Airbus Group NV put its first final-assembly line outside Europe in the city. Toyota Motor Corp. is adding 50,000 units to its local capacity this year. The city’s government has for several years been leading development of district modeled on Manhattan, complete with lookalikes of Rockefeller and Lincoln centers.
Per-capita income in Tianjin was 93,173 yuan ($14,944) in 2012, about 7 percent more Beijing, the No. 2, according to the most-recent National Bureau of Statistics data. By comparison, average income in Hong Kong was $36,736 that year.
Tianjin’s proximity to Beijing -- the two are connected by a high-speed train ride of less than 40 minutes -- has China’s top economic planners looking at ways to mitigate overcrowding and traffic. Some urban planners have also called for integrating nearby Hebei province into the “Jing-Jin-Ji” mix.
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