By Cherry Cao | 2012-9-24 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
WITHIN the next five years, China will surpass the United States as the country with the most skyscrapers, or buildings more than 152 meters in height, according to a report.
By 2017, China will have 802 such buildings on its mainland, compared to 539 in the US. And in 10 years from now, the number of skyscrapers on the mainland will reach 1,318, compared to 563 in the US, MotianCity, a research organization in China focusing on skyscrapers, said in its "Supercity" report.
Currently, the US tops the world with 533, compared to 470 on the Chinese mainland.
But there are 332 such buildings under construction on the Chinese mainland, with an additional 516 in the pipeline. In contrast, only six skyscrapers are under construction in the US at present, with another 24 in the planning stage, the report said.
With 848 skyscrapers set to rise across the mainland over the next 10 years - not only in major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing but also in second and third-tier cities such as Nanjing and Dongguan - analysts have mixed views on the skyscraper construction boom and its likely effect on the country's future economy.
The boom is expected to generate a total investment of more than 1.7 trillion yuan (US$269 billion) but might be a "bubble" that could pose a threat, according to the Southern Weekend newspaper after conducting interviews with a group of economists and researchers.
Independent business commentator Ye Tan thought there could be some bubbles in the country's current skyscraper construction boom but they would be mainly confined to tertiary cities with small populations.
However, John Llewellyn, former global chief economist at Lehman Brothers, said he didn't consider it a bubble because the real driving force behind the construction was rapid urbanization as well as huge market demand created by robust economic growth.
Wu Chengtao, chief editor of motiancity.com, believed bubbles are already apparent if, compared to the US, demand for skyscrapers is always fuelled by the service industry.
"In 2011, China's revenue generated by the service industry only accounted for 26.8 percent of that in the US but the number of skyscrapers here in the country already accounted for 88 percent of the total there," Wu said.