Hangzhou City Profile

“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”

–Plutarch, ancient Greek biographer (c. 46 – 120 CE)

These aspects will be considered and investigated:

1. What are the aspects that contribute to this socio-economic inequality?

2. What are the inevitable implications of this disparity?

3. What are the government's policies regarding housing in Mumbai? How have they changed over time?

4. How could we improve accessibility and quality of housing options for the poorest urban residents?

5. How could we alleviate this socio-economic inequality?

Hangzhou: An Introduction


This is the oft-quoted ancient Chinese proverb that asserts that Suzhou and Hangzhou are comparable to heaven.

Hangzhou is the coastal provincial capital of Zhejiang province. It is home to over 8 million inhabitants and is the leading high-tech and software hub of China. With its open economy and room for investment, the city has consolidated its place as the centre for technological advancement, and has been labeled the "Silicon Valley" of China. The city is also known as one of the most beautiful cities in China, and boasts a rich culture and history.

City Population: 8.7 million.

Here are some quick facts:

It is one of Chinese Six Ancient Capitals, and first saw settlements in the Qin dynasty 2200 years ago.

Wahaha, the nation’s largest beverage company is headquartered in the city.

Development: highly developed. It is already the wealthiest of the medium-sized cities, and the economy has been growing rapidly.

Hangzhou’s industries have traditionally been textile, silk and machinery.

Industry: 47% tertiary industry (tourist industry, financial services), 50% secondary (electronics manufacturing, software), 3% primary (agriculture).

The GDP per capita was ¥61,313 (ca. US$8,063), ranked no. 8 among 659 Chinese cities.

Average annual income: RMB 68,398 (10,103 USD)

Hangzhou has more recently experienced urbanisation, with a rise in population leading to a series of successive developments. The city is seen as a place of new opportunities and of wealth, and has thus seen a swell in population due to waves of rural-urban migration. This cumulative causation directly correlates with socio-economic inequality in the city.

By 2023, Hangzhou is expected to see its headcount of UHNWI (ultra-high-net-worth-individuals), people with over $30 million in assets, rise to 1,002, an increase of 78% from its current level of 563.

In a decade, Hangzhou will have more multimillionaires than Los Angeles.

This visual represents the amount of disposable household income for each section of the Hangzhou population. Ranging from lowest income to highest income, the disparity is evident. 16442RMB/year, amounts to approx. 1370RMB/month. This is a meagre sum for an entire family to live on.

Residents living in an informal settlement look across Qiantang Canal at Hangzhou city. Built in 1998, and expanding since then, the site is inhabited by over 600 people. Labeled No. 56, referring to its address on the Qiantang Canal, it is also locally known as "Beggar Village" or "Rubbish Kingdom".

The inhabitants of the settlement are severely underprivileged, and often end up there as a last resort- some cannot afford regular housing and some are younger adults and children that have run away from home.

The residents are often unemployed and begging, whilst some make a living in jobs such as rubbish collectors and shoe shiners. Many resort to stealing, lying and cheating to earn a few RMB.

The living conditions in the slums are grave, meaning that the residents suffer from issues such as waste management, the scarcity of sanitary facilities, hygienic conditions and lack of medical care.

The damaging implications of this socio-economic inequality are most evident in when living standards are compared across the range of disparity. The consequences are low literacy levels, inadequate housing, and lack of access to basic resources and healthcare.

China is classified as an LEDC, but it is more accurately described as a NIC, a Newly Industrialised Country. This means that as a city like Hangzhou prospers, the poor are not able to keep up with the rapid growth and high cost of living.

Looking to the Future

3 ways to alleviate the wealth gap:

1. Increasing the minimum wage.

A minimum wage increase would lift thousands out of poverty. One major factor that contributes to the economic disparity is income inequality. Currently, a minimum wage is not implemented strongly and equally in China. An enforced minimum wage would make a world of difference for many low-income employees, and would not have an overall negative effect on economic growth.

2. Increase taxes

One way of alleviating this economic inequality would be to increase taxes.

3. Encouraging social responsibility

Another potential way to alleviate the economic disparity would be to encourage businesses and landlords to be socially responsible. For example: reducing rents so as not to push out small, independent businesses. This would directly support the needy, and prevent economic monopolisation.

4. Invest in education

Differences and improvements in early education are essential factors that contribute to lasting economic inequalities over time and across generations. To ensure children a consistent and lasting education, is to ensure equal opportunities.

Hangzhou is still finding its role as a Chinese city, but the government's attention must be brought to the question of socio-economic inequality and the related concepts of inclusivity and authenticity. Seeing as the officials are aware of this situation, it must be stressed that the inequality warrants immediate and efficient attention and governance.

Works Cited

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"Hangzhou Facts, Facts about Hangzhou." Hangzhou Facts,Facts about Hangzhou. Letour International Company Limited, n.d. Web. 30 May 2015.

"In 10 Years, Hangzhou Will Have More Millionaires Than L.A." China Real Time Report RSS. The Wall Street Journal, 6 May 2014. Web. 30 May 2015.

"Teach in Hangzhou | TEFL Panda." TEFL Panda. TEFL, n.d. Web. 30 May 2015.

Heydari, Soraya. "I'll Never Look At China The Same After Working For An Insanely Wealthy Family In Hangzhou." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 05 Feb. 2014. Web. 30 May 2015.

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