June 26: China’s Changing Megacities

Megacities Roggeveen Hewitt

[Note 17May 2013: You can learn more about the policy-oriented speaker series at Hopkins China Forum and about the group Young China Watchers.]

As part of the monthly Hopkins China Forum series, I’ll be moderating a very interesting panel discussion tomorrow entitled “China’s Changing Megacities” with Daan Roggeveen, architect and founder/director of the Go West Project, and author of How the City Moved to Mr Sun”. Duncan Hewitt, Shanghai Correspondent for Newsweek and author of“Getting Rich First: Life in a Changing China” will be offering commentary on the topic as well.

The talk will revolve around the break-neck development of cities in Central and Western China which have focused solely on their physical infrastructure, but now need to face societal issues of sustainability, education, and cultural development.

Over the next two decades around 300 million Chinese villagers will move to the city, creating the largest urban society the world has ever seen. Small towns in central and western China are transforming at breakneck pace into huge metropolises with many millions of inhabitants, rivaling global cities like Rio de Janeiro, London,and Moscow, though their names are unknown in the rest of the world.  These unexplored cities in the heart of China have focused solely on their physical development over the past decade, but when the physics of their development slows down, as it must, they will then need to shift toward non-physical aspects of development, such as education, sustainability, and most importantly cultural life.  Architect Daan Roggeveen (Go West Project) and journalist Duncan Hewitt (Newsweek) will challenge certain assumptions about the nature of Chinese society and pose the question: Can China transform its triumph of brick and concrete into a model that can be a beacon for the world?

Both Daan and Duncan’s books will be on sale during the event, I encourage you to pick up a copy and have a pint at the same time!

The talk will be at Wooden Box, 9 Qinghai Lu, near Nanjing Xi Lu (青海路9号, 近南京西路) on Tuesday, June 26th at 7pm, and I encourage you to RSVP to Frank Tsai at editor[at]shanghai-review.org, since seating may be limited.



  • Reply June 26, 2012


    Will the discussion be recorded for a podcast for those of us who want to listen from afar?

    • Reply June 27, 2012

      Sue Anne

      I’m afraid not, sorry. It’s a good idea to consider, I’ll float it to the organizer!

  • Reply June 27, 2012


    Hey Sue Anne,

    this is a great topic.

    I find somehow difficult to live in “small” Chinese towns because it seems there is nothing behind dorms and factories.

    As my outsider point of view surely doesn’t help to find the right spots where to go, I may be wrong.

    However, excluding first and second tiers towns it seems pretty difficult to find interesting cultural and social events (unless you are into KTV : P).


    • Reply June 28, 2012

      Sue Anne

      Ciao Furio, sorry you weren’t able to join us but feel free to pick up the author’s books. It’ll definitely add to the conversation!

  • Reply October 2, 2012


    I read Duncan Hewitt’s book recently and found it a fantastic read. Living in a large Chinese city is like being in a real life version of Sim City.

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