It turned out to be too good to be true. It seems as if China is not planning
on merging a number of cities in Guangdong Province into a single "city" of 42 million after all. I'm not sure why the "Turn the Pearl River Delta Into One" scheme was originally reported
as fact, but I am not sad to see the news, as the idea struck me as rather silly.
If, as it was reported, the idea behind this scheme was to allow residents of this new city (I like "Guangdopolis") to "use the health care and other facilities in the different areas" and to distribute "public services...more fairly," local governments would be better served by reforming the crazy way such services are delivered to people, not shifting the administrative boundaries to work within the current system. The problem facing local governments is not one of small underpopulated cities, surely, but a system that makes it extremely difficult for the average Chinese to get services outside of their official city of residence.
Also, as has been reported many times before, the way we think about the size of Chinese cities is flawed
. Had such a merger actually occurred, I think you could argue that the urban population would have been below 42 million anyway.