Chinese cities have become more livable compared with other cities around the world in the past 12 months, as terror and unrest elsewhere underlined stability in China, according to a global ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
A period of relative stability is the main reason why seven of the eight mainland cities that were rated have seen scores improve in the past 12 months. While the average global stability score has fallen by 2.2 percent over the past five years, mainland cities saw scores improve by an average of 0.45 percentage points in the same period, according to the think tank.
“Improving Chinese scores is a bright spot in an otherwise worrying picture painted by the global threat of instability. Last year, events in Ukraine and the Middle East formed a sobering backdrop to global livability, but in the past 12 months this has been compounded by protests in the US, sanctions in Russia and shootings in France and Tunisia,” said Jon Copestake, editor of the survey.
The EIU used five broad categories－stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure－to gauge the “livability” of 140 cities around the world. Under the more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors, Beijing was rated the most livable city on the mainland, underpinned by its excellent education and cultural resources. Over the past 12 months, the city has moved up five places to 69th.
Beijing is followed closely by Tianjin (70th) and Suzhou (71st). The lowest-ranked Chinese city was Qingdao, which was rated 98th out of the 140 cities surveyed.
Hong Kong saw its ranking drop dramatically, from 31st to 46th in the global table, chiefly due to rising civil unrest there, the EIU said. Singapore was ranked 49th, closely followed by Seoul and Taipei. Melbourne was top-ranked not only in the Asia-Pacific region but also the world.
Responding to concern that Beijing being ranked the mainland’s most “livable” city might contradict Chinese people’s general perception, Tom Rafferty, the EIU’s economist for Asia, said: “Environment, particularly air pollution, might be the most grave concern in China. But globally this is a much lesser issue and it only accounted for a tiny portion of our broad assessment.”
The “livability survey” only rated eight mainland cities, mostly coastal ones where expatriates concentrate, excluding most inland medium-sized to small cities, which most Chinese people deemed more livable.
The survey was designed to offer a reference to multinationals when they assign a hardship allowance as part of expatriate relocation packages.