Monday, February 19, 2007

The growing middle class in Asia and Africa

Contradictory roles are demanded of city governments as they seek to keep their cities competitive in an increasingly globalized world economy while also having increasing responsibilities for addressing social problems, and making local economic development less exclusionary.

After one of the fastest periods of economic growth in history, China is set to reclaim its place as one of the world's great powers.

Making the most of foreign trade, investment and technology, China sailed past its ambitious target of quadrupling gross domestic product in 20 years.

In the booming eastern cities there is a confidence and energy in the air. China will probably in a forseable future be overtaking the United States to become the world's largest economy, thus regaining a position it held for much of human history.

The official aim is to achieve a "well-to-do society" by 2020, with a per capita income of five times the present one of about US$1,000. "We're not talking about a standard of living comparable to the West, but if China continues to pursue the current reforms the country will have a massive middle class," BBC reports.

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