Twenty years ago, Beijing raised this industrial city in Sichuan to the rank of province with the aim to develop the rest of South West China. Chongqing became a gigantic megalopolis that keeps growing while most of China is facing an economic slowdown.
A beautiful spring morning in Chongqing. A few rays of sunshine throw a timid light on the forest of skyscrapers usually plunged in a thick fog. We are precisely on the Yuzhong peninsula, the historical and geographical center of the city, one of the largest in the country, with Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. At its end, where the Jialing River meets the turbulent waters of the Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia, dozens of cranes are building what will surely become the new Chongqing symbol in 2018: Raffles City, a set of 8 apartments and offices buildings, two of which are 300 meters high.
Four of Raffles City’s eight towers will be connected by a glass corridor suspended 280 meters above the ground. Construction began in 2012 with CapitaLand, a Singapore real estate developer. Total cost: more than 3 billion dollars. This is the biggest investment ever made to date by a Singaporean company in China. So goes Chongqing.
While the rest of China is slowing down, this self-governing municipality of 33 million inhabitants, with a surface area of 82,300 square meters – larger than those of the Benelux countries or the Czech Republic – continues to be transformed into a modern city. In 2016, according to official data, the city recorded a double-digit growth rate for the fifteenth consecutive year: its GDP rose by 10.8%, against 6.6% for the national average, the lowest growth rate in twenty-six years.
Since 2007, without interruption, Chongqing is growing faster than the rest of the country. “Let’s take drinkable water production as an example, which is an excellent indicator of economic development,” said M. Sun, Suez Asia Vice President, in her northern city office. Between 2002 and 2016, in Chongqing, it increased between 12 and 15% per year. This is unprecedented in the world. In Europe, one turns between 1 and 3%. It is a very dynamic megalopolis! “So dynamic that the French specialist in the environment performs one-third of its activities in China. Drinkable water, wastewater treatment, etc. In 15 years, according to M. Sun, Suez invested about 550 million dollars in Chongqing, where the group runs five water plants.