Pearl River Delta
The Pearl River Delta
PRD also named Zhujiang Delta or Zhusanjiao in Guangdong province, People’s Republic of China is he low-lying area surrounding the Pearl River estuary where the Pearl River flows into the South China Sea. It is one of the most densely urbanised regions in the world and one of the main hubs of China’s economic growth. This region is often considered an emerging megacity. The PRD is a megalopolis, with future development into a single mega metropolitan area, yet itself is at the southern end of a larger megalopolis running along the southern coast of China, which include large metropolises like Chaoshan, Zhangzhou-Xiamen, Quanzhou-Putian, and Fuzhou. The nine largest cities of PRD had a combined population of 57.15 million in at 2013 end, however, their population growth is modest at 0.45% year over year, comprising 53.69% of the provincial population. This sharply contrasts with the previous decade’s migrant population boom, and reflects the rising cost of migrant labor and changes to the value chain.
Since economic liberalisation was adopted by the Chinese government in the late 1970s, the delta has become one of the leading economic regions and a major manufacturing center of China and the world. The Chinese government hopes that the manufacturing in Guangdong, combined with the financial and service economy and traditional capitalistic influence in Hong Kong, will create an economic gateway attracting foreign capital throughout mainland China.
The river delta, also known as the Golden Delta of Guangdong, is formed by three major rivers, the Xi Jiang (West River), Bei Jiang (North River), and Dong Jiang (East River). The flat lands of the delta are criss-crossed by a network of tributaries and distributaries of the Pearl River. The Pearl River Delta is actually two alluvial deltas, separated by the core branch of the PearlRiver. The Bei Jiang and Xi Jiang converge to flow into the South China Sea and Pearl River in the west, while the Dong Jiang only flows into the Pearl River proper in the east.
The Xi Jiang begins exhibiting delta-like characteristics as far west as Zhaoqing, although this city is not usually considered a part of the PRD region. After passing through the Lingyang Gorgeand converging with the Bei Jiang, the Xi Jiang opens up and flows as far east as Nasha Qu and as far west as Xinhui. Major distributaries of the Xi include Donghui Shuidao, Jiya Shuidao, Hutiaomen Shuidao, Yinzhou Hu, and the main branch of the Xi Jiang. Jiangmen and Zhongshan are the major cities found in the western section of the delta.
The Bei Jiang enters the delta plains at Qingyuan but doesn’t begin to split until near Sanshui. From here the two main distributaries are Tanzhou Shuidao and Shunde Shuidao which form multiple mouths along the west side of the Pearl River’s estuary. Two other distributaries, Lubao Yong and Xinan Yong, split fromthe Bei further north and converge with the Liuxi He to form the main branch of the Pearl River just north of Guangzhou. The other major city in the north section of the delta is Foshan.
The Dong Jiang flows through Huizhou into the delta. It begins diverging northeast of Dongguan into many distributaries, including the Dongguan Shuidao. Distributuares enter the Pearl River as far north as Luogang and as far south as Hu Men (Tiger Gate).
Location and demographics
As well as the delta itself, the term Pearl River Delta refers to the dense network of cities that covers nine prefectures of the province of Guangdong, namely Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan,Zhongshan, Foshan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing, and the SARs of Hong Kong and Macau. The 2010/2011 State of the World Cities report, published by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, estimates the population of the delta region at 120 million people; it is rapidly urbanising.
The eastern side of the PRD (Shenzhen, Dongguan), dominated by foreign capitals,is the most developed economically. The western areas (Foshan, Zhuhai,Zhongshan,Jiangmen), dominated by local private capitals, are open for development. New transport links between Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai in the PRD are expected to open up new areas for development, further integrate the cities, and facilitate trade within the region. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, currently under construction, and the proposed Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge, currently in the planning phase, will be amongst the longest bridges in the world with a total length of approximately 50 km each.
An 1888 map of the mouth of the Pearl River Delta, showing the locations of Macau and Hong Kong Until c. 1985, the PRD had been mainly dominated by farms and small rural villages,but after the economy was reformed and opened,a flood of investment turned it into the land’s economic powerhouse.The PRD’s startling growth was fueled by foreign investment coming largely from Hong Kong manufacturers that moved their operations into the PRD. In 2003, Hong Kong companies employed 11 million workers in their PRD operations. Lately there have been extreme labour shortages in the region due to runaway economic growth which caused wages to rise by about 20 to 30 percent in the past two years.
The Pearl River Delta has been one of most economically dynamic regions of the People’s Republic of China since the launch of China’s reform programme in 1979. With annual gross domestic product growth of 13.45 percent over three decadessince 1978, it is 3.5 percentage points higher than the national average. Since 1978, almost 30% of all foreign investment in China was in the PRD. By 2007 its GDP rose to US$448 billion which makes its economy about the size of Taiwan’s. The abundance of employment opportunities created a pool of wealthy, middle-income, professional consumers with an annual per capita income that puts them among China’s wealthiest. Since the onset of China’s reform program, the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone has been the fastest growing portion of the fastest growing province in the fastest growing large economy in the world.According to the 2000 national Census, the Zone had a population of 40.8 million people. er capita income has been growing substantially in recent years, as have consumer expenditures.
Although the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone encompasses only 0.4 percent of theland area and only 3.2 percent of the 2000 Census population of mainland China, it accounted for 8.7 percent of GDP, 35.8 percent of total trade, and 29.2 percent of utilised foreign capital in 2001. These figures show the remarkable level of economic development that the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone has achieved and the international orientation of the region’s economy. This orientation has attracted numerous investors from all over the world who use the Greater Pearl River Delta region as a platform for serving global and Chinese markets.
As of 2008, the Central Government has introduced new labor laws, environmental and new regulations to reduce pollution, industrial disputes, safer working onditions and protect the environment. The costs of producing low margin and commodity goods have increased. This is on top of the rising cost for energy, food,transport and the appreciation of the Renminbi against the falling US Dollar. Some manufacturers will need to cut costs by moving up the value chain or moving to more undeveloped regions.
The industrial cities in the Pearl River Delta has been called the “Factory of the World” or the “World’s Factory” due the presence of industrial parks populated with factories from foreign investments.
Significance of manufacturing
Several streets in Guangzhou specialize in selling electronic components to the manufacturers of electric and electronic goods
The Pearl River Delta has become the world’s workshop and is a major manufacturing base for products such as electronic products (such as watches and clocks), toys, garments and textiles,plastic products, and a range of other goods. Much of this output is invested by foreign entities and is geared for the export market.The Pearl River Delta Economic Zone accounts for approximately one third of China’s trade value.
Private-owned enterprises have developed quickly in the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone and are playing an ever-growing role in the region’s economy, particularly after year 2000 when the development environment for private-owned enterprises has been greatly relaxed.
Nearly five percent of the world’s goods were produced in the Greater Pearl River Delta in 2001, with a total export value of US$289 billion. Over 70,000 Hong Kong companies have factory plants there.