How The 20 Richest Chinese Cities Compare to America\u2019s

The past 20 years have been an era of rapid economic growth in China. Between 2001 and 2021, China’s gross domestic product grew by more than 1,200% – from $1.34 trillion to $17.73 trillion, in current U.S. dollars. Meanwhile, the share of the Chinese population living on poverty-level income  – defined as less than $5.50 U.S. dollars per day – fell from 86.9% to less than 25% over roughly the same period. 

Chinese GDP growth was driven by a series of economic reforms that began in 1979. These reforms resulted in greater investment in capital and improvements in productivity. Still, despite ranking among the world’s fastest growing economies, China lags far behind the United States in GDP per capita, a measure of prosperity at the individual level. 

Even in many of China’s wealthiest cities, the standard of living is considerably lower than it is in America’s wealthiest cities, though many cities are catching up. 

Using data from Sina Finance, the China Statistical Yearbook 2022, and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 24/7 Wall St. compared GDP levels in the 20 wealthiest Chinese and the 20 wealthiest American metro areas. GDP is expressed in 2021 U.S. dollars. 24/7 Wall St. also calculated GDP per capita for each city.

Each of the 20 wealthiest U.S. cities by GDP has greater overall economic output than its Chinese counterpart, by anywhere from about 21% to nearly 200% higher. Additionally, with only a handful of exceptions, the 20 wealthiest American cities have a smaller population base than the comparably ranked Chinese city. (Here is a look at the world’s nations with 100 million people or more.)

As a result, Americans living in the wealthiest U.S. cities are, on average, more prosperous than the Chinese residing in China’s wealthiest cities. Among the 20 U.S. cities on this list, GDP per capita ranges from $45,815 to $210,236. Meanwhile, GDP per capita in the 20 Chinese cities on this list ranges from $17,638 to $65,466. 

Only two of China’s wealthiest cities have a higher GDP per capita than their comparably ranked American metro. Fuzhou, Fujian, the 20th wealthiest city in China, and Wuxi, Jiangsu, the 14th wealthiest Chinese city, have a higher GDP per capita than Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California and Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, Arizona, the 20th and 14th wealthiest American cities, respectively. (Here is a look at the 27 poorest nations on Earth.)

Click here to see how the richest Chinese cities compare to US.

Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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