A City the Size of Kansas

Here’s a question — is there a limit to how large a city can be and still be considered a city (as opposed to a province/state or region)? That question popped into my mind when I read an article in The New York Times recently about China’s plans to create a super-city by combining Beijing with some of its surrounding cities and provinces.

For decades, China’s government has tried to limit the size of Beijing, the capital, through draconian residency permits. Now, the government has embarked on an ambitious plan to make Beijing the center of a new supercity of 130 million people.

The planned megalopolis, a metropolitan area that would be about six times the size of New York’s, is meant to revamp northern China’s economy and become a laboratory for modern urban growth.

“The supercity is the vanguard of economic reform,” said Liu Gang, a professor at Nankai University in Tianjin who advises local governments on regional development. “It reflects the senior leadership’s views on the need for integration, innovation and environmental protection.”

The new region will link the research facilities and creative culture of Beijing with the economic muscle of the port city of Tianjin and the hinterlands of Hebei Province, forcing areas that have never cooperated to work together.

To accompany the article, Jonah Kessel produced this excellent video to give you a glimpse of what this new “city” will be like.

And note this:

But the new supercity is intended to be different in scope and conception. It would be spread over 82,000 square miles, about the size of Kansas, and hold a population larger than a third of the United States.

So, to my original question — is a city the size of Kansas really a city?

Moon Cakes or Donkey Meat?

On Thursday, Ms. B, one of the Chinese staff in our office got a phone call asking her to go to the main gate of the school to receive a delivery of gifts for Mid-Autumn Festival. The caller was a representative from the printing company we worked with this past summer.

“Bring a large cart with you to the gate,” he instructed. “I have 16 boxes.”

She obeyed, thinking that she would be picking up 16 boxes of moon cakes.

She was wrong. There were 4 sets of 4 boxes. In other words, there were 4 people in the office (fortunately I was not one of them ) who were each to get 4 boxes of goodies.

And here’s the interesting part….not one of the boxes had any moon cakes. The printer had decided to buck tradition and send gift boxes of other stuff instead.

Box Number One: Preserved Duck Eggs

Box Number 2: Preserved dates

Box Number Three: Jars of Sesame Oil

Box Number 4: Donkey Meat (yes, the printer is from Hebei)

Suddenly, moon cakes are sounding pretty good.