Cities in China: How Do they Rank Globally?

Chinese netizens have reacted to the recent ranking of Beijing as the “top city on mainland China” to appear on the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)’s list of the world’s most livable cities.

The annual survey results were published last week and responses in China were pretty much as one might expect.

“Beijing is our most liveable city? They must be joking. Maybe for someone functioning without lungs,” said Guangdong resident Liew Jia Kit.

“The ranking, which considers 30 factors related to such things like safety, healthcare, educational resources, infrastructure and environment in 140 cities, shows that since 2010 average livability across the world has fallen by 1%, led by a 2.2% fall in the score for stability and safety,” states The Economist.


While Beijing has made the list before, what has prompted criticism is probably the fact that it has moved up five spots, to #69 out of the 140 total listings. What’s more, Tianjin reportedly made the cut as well. Perhaps it was too late to remove the city from the list in light of the recent explosions (plural), recurring fires, and speculation on contaminated water sources in the surrounding areas.

Among other factors, the report states that several Chinese cities have boosted rankings “largely because of a lower threat from civil unrest.”

While it’s good to know that people are safer in Beijing, that seems to apply only if you stay away from the Sanlitun Shopping area, oh and try not to breathe the air if you can help it.

If even the Mayor of Beijing admits that the city is “unlivable” due to the consistent severity of air pollution, people are certainly going to question surveys such as this. And a few weekends here and there with clear blue skies does not mean that real solutions have been put in place for reducing air pollution.

The coastal Chinese cities of Qingdao, Dalian, and Shenzhen also made the list, consistently boasting less traffic congestion plus much cleaner air than Beijing (or most other Chinese cities for that matter).

Shanghai and Suzhou also ranked, but some netizens still question why other deserving places didn’t… what about the harbor city of Xiamen? Or subtropical Hainan Island (which features the cities of Haikou and Sanya)? This is all the more surprising when considering that southern coastal cities tend to rank at or near the top of nationally published “most livable cities” lists in China.

As for global surveys by the EIU or Mercer Consulting, the top 10 spots almost always go to cities in central and northern European countries, along with a handful of prominent cities in perhaps Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

To those living or traveling in China, what city do you think should have been included in the EIU’s list?