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Harbin becomes a mega city

Updated : 2014-10-15

By ( chinadaily.com.cn )

Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, has become a mega city according to the first Joint Inter-Ministerial Conference for the Promotion of New-type Urbanization in Beijing on Oct 8.

With the participation of the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Civil Affairs and Ministry of Finance, the conference announced that cities with a non-agricultural population of over 5 million will be classified as mega cities.

Statistics from the door-to-door household survey during the sixth nationwide population census in Harbin showed the permanent residents in urban areas, districts and counties amounted to 10.6 million in 2010. After the county-level Shuangcheng city was approved by the State Council as a new district of Harbin on May 2 this year, urban population in Harbin grew to 5.5 million from the previous 4.7 million, enabling Harbin to become a mega city listed with Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and 12 other cities in China.

According to the document redefining city scales at the meeting, there are obvious changes from the previous City Planning Law of the People’s Republic of China adopted in 1990.

Scale                  Urban population

2014 document

1990 document

Mega city

above 5 million


Large city

between 1-5 million

above 500,000

Medium-sized city


500,000 and 1 million


200,000 and 500,000

Small city

below 500,000

below 200,000

As to what would change when Harbin becomes a mega city of the country, a specialist of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Harbin said:

"Harbin becoming a mega city will represent both opportunities and challenges to the city’s urbanization development. There are opportunities from central government’s favorable policies and challenges due to population and employment issues.”

As Harbin joins China’s mega cities, the local government will tighten residence registration or hukou (hukou is a record in the system of household registration required by law in China).

It is most likely that a point-based residence system as practiced now in Shanghai and other mega cities in China will be introduced to restrict household registration and control the growth of the population in Harbin.