The United States of America dominates the world’s most economically competitive cities, with the most representatives among the top 200 urban centres on the planet, according to an annual study by a Chinese think tank and a United Nations agency. American cities occupy 22 among the top 50 spots, making up 61 of the top 200, according to the 2019-2020 Global Urban Competitiveness Report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. China has nine cities including Hong Kong and Taipei among the 50 most competitive, while 39 urban centres made it to the top 200, according to the report. Six of the top 50 cities are German, while two are in Japan. The survey, in its third annual instalment, examines 1,006 of the biggest urban centres on Earth – each with at least 500,000 residents – to reflect their industrial base and their connectedness with the global division of labour. The more indispensable a city is to its worldwide network, the higher is its position in the ranking. Asian cities increased their share among 200 most competitive urban centres at the expense of European cities in the past year, reflecting “the overall enhancement of the [significance] of economic and technological consolidation, and the decline of specialised cities or manufacturing hubs,” said Professor Ni Pengfei, assistant director of the National Academy of Economic Strategy of the CASS, the lead author of the report. New York – the world’s largest financial marketplace and home of such companies as the investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer – is the world’s most economically competitive city for the third consecutive year. London pushed aside Singapore for the second spot this year, after spending 2017 and 2018 in third spot. Shenzhen , China’s technology hub and home of such behemoths as Huawei Technologies, Tencent Holdings and the drone maker DJI, is in fourth spot globally, and is the highest-ranked among Chinese cities, according to the report. Hong Kong is in 13th place globally behind Shanghai and Houston, but ahead of Seoul, Beijing, Boston and Guangzhou. Hangzhou, the provincial capital of Zhejiang and home of this newspaper’s parent Alibaba Group Holding, is in 64th position behind Sydney, but ahead of Barcelona. The eastern Chinese city’s competitiveness jumped 10 spots from the previous year, reflecting the overall increase in representation among China’s urban centres. Due to China’s population, the nation had 291 entries in the total survey of 1,006 cities, compared with 75 for the US. Asia’s representation in the survey shrank by 31 per cent last year, compared with the previous survey in 2018, a smaller drop than the 54.2 per cent decline in competitiveness among European cities, the report said. The advances and declines among North American cities remained evenly spread. “Changes in the urban landscape are determinants of changes in the global system,” said Ni. “The economics of global cities progressed from a bipolar world to a globalised system, from transactions of commodities to the trade of factors of production, and then from supply chains to creation chains.” One of noteworthy developments shown in the report is the evolution of urban centres from solitary habitats into city clusters, and then into so-called megalopolitan areas comprising interlocking urban centres. One such example may be southern China’s Greater Bay Area (GBA), comprising 11 cities including Hong Kong and Macau, with a population of 70 million people and a combined economy estimated at US$1.5 trillion, which would place it ahead of Spain as the world’s 13th-biggest economy if it were a stand-alone entity, according to the International Monetary Fund’s data. Seven of the GBA’s 11 cities are among the 200 most competitive cities in the CASS/UN survey: Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Foshan, Dongguan, Macau, Zhuhai. That leaves Zhongshan (206), Huizhou (271), Jiangmen (380) and Zhaoqing (425). The three most competitive GBA cities – Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Guangzhou – are also the homes of 80 per cent of the 80 fastest-growing companies in the entire area, according to the inaugural SCMP-Statista Growth Champions of the Greater Bay Area 2020 survey. The sectors the growth champions are engaged in reflect the industrial structure of the southern Chinese region, with a strong leaning toward technology, the manufacturing of components and internet-related applications.