How Will Chinese Innovations Transform the Cities of Tomorrow?

Chinese influence on city skylines and infrastructure has grown through significant investment and development. Yet over the next decade, China’s influence will be felt in more diverse and subtle ways. The China12 cities are on the edge of a number of new technologies that will change the way in which cities work.

On-Demand Economy

The China12 are at the forefront of the ‘on-demand economy’, including bike-sharing, ride-hailing, co-working and delivery services, building on the country’s mature digital ecosystem. The spread of dock-less bike-sharing schemes across the globe is the most visible element. The ‘on-demand economy’ is already influencing the flows of people, vehicles and goods across cities, changing everything from office demand to logistics networks.

The Platform Economy

China’s leading apps have become ubiquitous for Chinese consumers, integrating everything from messaging to e-payments. In some locations, users can book doctors’ appointments, pay bills, and pay for parking using a single platform. Bike-sharing, ride-hailing, e-commerce, and ticket buying are also integrated. China is already well ahead in terms of e-payments and, in the future, these platforms may transform the relationships between cities, corporates and citizens.


China is investing heavily in the electric and autonomous vehicle sectors. Home to some of the world’s leading electric vehicle makers, it is also central to battery production. China’s automotive firms and technology giants are emerging as major players in the autonomous vehicle industry. These technologies will transform the ways in which cities and infrastructure are designed.

New Retail Concepts

Leading e-commerce firms are now pivoting towards ‘bricks-and-mortar’ retail, as they seek to break down the barriers between online and offline shopping experiences. This has included investments into existing retailers, utilising ‘big data’, experiential retail, and other new offers to improve the shopping experience. Unmanned convenience stores have also emerged.