Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Shanghai have been rated the top cities in China for economic development and competitiveness in a new report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The Academy assessed 293 cities throughout Greater China. Its latest report, issued on June 24, listed the top 10 cities in a comprehensive economic competitiveness index for 2018.

They were, in order: Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Suzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Taipei and Dongguan.

It is worth noting that Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Shanghai achieved the same rankings as the previous year.

In terms of liveability and sustainable development, Hong Kong was listed as number one.

The report said the top 20 cities in China are located in the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, the Bohai Rim and in Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province.

The disparity between the northern and southern parts of the country can be seen clearly, with the latter being more developed. Only Beijing and Tianjin are located in the north. Most of the top 20  cities are located in the eastern half of the country as well.

Northern China ‘needs help’

Chen Yao, the vice president and secretary general of the China Association of Regional Economics, noted that economic development lags in the north. He said the lack of technological innovation, economic growth plus an outflow of people has caused a huge difference.

Chen believed that there should be an adjustment in terms of regional development, with a focus on the north and trying to transform industries and revitalize the region economically. Measures should also be taken to retain talent to try to prevent local residents from leaving for opportunities in the south, he said.

Ma Qingbin, a researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the major cities are clearly the main engine of China’s economic development but it had become important to develop rural areas in order for national stability and to boost the quality of the Chinese economy.

The report also pointed out that China’s urbanization ratio will exceed 70% by 2035, as more and more citizens shift from individual to family migration.

This article was first published on ATimesCN.com and translated by Kamaran Malik.