China’s ascension and European cities in 2040: A scenario
Introduction The tremendous transitions going on in China since the Deng reforms in the 1980s are not only fundamentally changing the country itself, but will also have a global impact. Today, despite the price of oil and the scarcity of other raw materials, there is no clear sign that the rise of China as an economic superpower will come to any halt in the near future. In this chapter, we sketch a gloomy ‘doom’ scenario on how cities in Europe can benefit in the short term, but may in the long term suffer tremendously from China’s current and future economic success story. The time horizon for our adventurous projection is the year 2040. Our hypothesis for the following scenario is that over the next several decades economic growth in China will continue, thus affecting European cities much more and in different ways than today. Scenarios do not predict what will be. They mainly serve as models for thinking about possible futures. Therefore, scenarios may be extreme. To build an extreme scenario, we did not take possible discontinuities, such as war, heavy pandemics, etc., into account. Also, we did not consider economic reactions when the balance of trade changes, such as increased tariffs and barriers for trade. In our simplified scenario, the national frontiers for imports and exports are as open as they are today, and moreover, we did not consider the impact of changing currency-exchange rates between the yuan and the euro. The scenario is narrative, looking back from a 2040 perspective, the Chinese year of the monkey, the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Lennon, the year when royalty was finally abolished in Great Britain, and the first evacuations of Pacific Islands due to rising sea levels started. First, we try to sketch out China’s increasingly important role in the world of tomorrow and then show possible reasons for its ascension. Second, we imagine the impact on European cities in 2040. Finally, we conclude that in addition to our doom scenario, positive scenarios and related actions are needed in order to maintain the quality of life in Europe’s cities.