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close this bookEmerging World Cities in Pacific Asia (UNU, 1996, 528 pages)
close this folderPart 3. Borderless cities
close this folderThe Hong Kong-Zhujiang Delta and the world city system
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe Zhajiang Delta and its cities
View the documentThe world city hypothesis and Zhajiang Delta cities
View the documentTerritorial containment of a functional world city phenomenon
View the documentConclusion
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentReferences


To conclude, the Zhujiang Delta urban system has now become part of the world city system and, of course, part of the Asia-Pacific urban system. As the world city system itself can be regarded as a spatial outcome of the new international division of labour, the predominant process of the internationalization of capital and its inherent logic of accumulation and reproduction will push the Zhujiang Delta urban system to extend its influence northward and assume a bigger role as an intermediary for transnationals to extend their market and production facilities.

To date, most transnationals view China as a large market rather than as a production base. Overseas Chinese family capital differs from transnational capital in this perspective, in that for Chinese family capital China is both a market and a production base. This is reflected in the pattern of foreign investment in the Zhujiang Delta. To the Chinese government, the Zhujiang Delta urban system is the means for it to gain a toehold in the international market and to obtain the most advanced technologies, which can be utilized to increase exports and decrease imports so as to improve national trade balances. Economically, these expectations and perceptions of the roles of the Zhujiang Delta urban system are conflicting and difficult to reconcile, particularly to the satisfaction of all.

The undesirability of the Zhujiang Delta urban system in spreading "spiritual pollution" to the ecumene of China has always been a concern of the Chinese central government, and there is evidence that the conventional means of territorial containment have failed. In conjunction with the strong regionalism in the Zhujiang Delta, it will be very unfortunate if the urban system generates too much pressure for the Chinese system as a whole to sustain. To strike a balance between functional integration and territorial integration is thus a lesson that the Zhujiang urban system has to learn and learn well. These two concepts of Friedmann and Weaver are not simply theoretical constructs but suitable policy guidelines for the future leaders of the urban system.

Finally, in territorial terms Hong Kong is undoubtedly part of the Zhujiang Delta urban system, but in functional terms Hong Kong's sphere of influence has spread far beyond the Delta. Despite its small area and with only 5.8 million population, Hong Kong's GDP is as much as a quarter of that of the PRC (in 1990, total GDP for Hong Kong was US$71,263 million and for the PRC US$275,053 million), and in terms of trading volume Hong Kong is even larger (in 1990, Hong Kong's total imports were worth US$84,702 million as against China's US$53,360 million, and total exports were US$82,296 million and US$62,070 million, respectively). In terms of direct foreign investment and corporate control, Hong Kong is as important to other parts of China as to the Zhujiang Delta. One thus has to appreciate the relative importance of Hong Kong within the following framework: top-rank world cities - Hong Kong - various regions of China Guangdong- Zhujiang Delta, instead of simply taking Hong Kong as the highest-ranked city of the regional urban system of the Zhujiang Delta.