Peter Daniels interviewed by Chongqing Youth News

Peter DanielsProfessor Peter Daniels is an economic geographer with an international reputation for research, initially on the development and location of office activities in cities, and later on the rise of the service economy and its impact on cities and regions, as well as its role in globalization and the internationalization of service firms. The introduction of Professor Peter Daniels can be found here.

Chongqing Youth News: When it comes to China’s urbanisation, we usually talk about learning from other countries’ experience. From your point of view, what is the peculiarity of China’s urbanisation?

Peter Daniels: Compared with other countries’ cases, China’s peculiarity is its warp-speed urbanisation rate. China’s overall urbanisation is much faster than other cities in Europe. That is the reason why some problems are produced along the way. For example, air pollution. How to properly manage a reasonable growth rate, such as controlling the number of motor vehicles, is very important.

Chongqing Youth News: It is inevitable that some problems would come up during the urbanisation process. The urbanisation process often comes under extreme pressure. Did European countries experience this too?

Peter Daniels: China, unlike other European countries, has the biggest challenge of having insufficient idle land for urbanisation. China needs to feed a very large population, but fertile land is scarce. And compared with Europe, China’s population density is very high. As people earn higher incomes and want to live an affluent life, they’ll want to go outside looking for adventures, which will put greater pressure on cities.

Chongqing Youth News: Many Chinese cities are pushing for the development of the service industry. In your opinion, what are the problems faced by China’s service industry?

Peter Daniels: The imminent issue now for China is how to optimise the economic structure so as to maintain employment, a sustainable economic structure that may let China’s manufacturing sector play a greater role and become modernised. My field of research is the development of the service sector. As urbanisation continues, requirements for the services industry increase a lot. The problem China faces is that its service sector is increasing irrationally. Hasty development of its tertiary industry causes the levels of knowledge, skills, and education to fall far behind the rise of cities’ population, which also poses a big challenge.

In addition, China is not only undergoing an unprecedented urbanisation process, but also faces the challenge of modernising its manufacturing sector. Going through urbanisation and manufacturing modernisation at the same time is a hard task for China, as the latter requires producer services of high quality. However, the development of China’s primary, secondary, tertiary industry is not balanced right now. The heavy reliance on the service industry causes the secondary industry to lag behind.

To better develop other two industries, the elevation of the secondary industry is necessary; and the full development of the three industries as a whole is then possible. Consequently, understanding and studying how producer services can be developed in China and how it functions is of great importance.

This interview in Chinese can be found here

Chi-Han Ai

Ph.D. candidate of EHESS ( École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) focusing on regional economic development in China and Taiwan.

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