Taichung surpasses Kaohsiung to become Taiwan's second-largest city

Taichung is now Taiwan's second most populous city, having surpassed its southern counterpart Kaohsiung. PHOTO: CTC TRAVEL AND TAIWAN VISITORS ASSOCIATION

TAIPEI (THE CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Taichung is now Taiwan's second most populous city, having surpassed its southern counterpart Kaohsiung.

And 309 people was it all took.

The latest Interior Ministry statistics show the central municipality with 2,778,182 residents in July, just ahead of Kaohsiung's 2,777,873.

New Taipei remained the most populous city by far, with 3,984,051 residents calling it home.

Taichung's increasing population indicates that the city now in the stage of "growing up to become an adult," said Mayor Lin Chia-lung.

Mr Lin added that plans for urban renovation and major infrastructure projects had already been approved by the central government and would help the city accommodate its growing number of residents.

The city's population has been growing both naturally - more births there than deaths - as well as due to a greater number of people moving to the city than moving from it.

In the second regard, Taichung's population has been growing at the second fastest rate nationwide for the past five years, second only to Taoyuan, according to the Central News Agency.

With arguably much more favourable weather than up north and with prime access to Central Taiwan's immensely explorable countryside, Taichung has in recent years enjoyed a bolstered public image, often being named Taiwan's most livable city.

The resurgence comes in the face of the city's decades-old reputation as a haven for criminal and corruption.

By contrast, Kaohsiung's population has been struggling even to remain steady - with net decreases every year between 2011 and 2015, according to Ms Chang Wan-yi, director of the Interior Ministry's Department of Household Registration.

The city has been particularly struggling in terms of social population growth - those moving there against those moving away - with repeated net losses, Ms Chang said.

Taichung superiority in this regard could be explained by the better job opportunities and social welfare system in the city, she said.

Southern Taiwan is often cited as bearing the brunt of Taiwan's unequal development, with complaints of difficulty in finding well-paying white collar jobs, even in its two main population centres of Tainan and Kaohsiung.

Taichung's higher rate of natural population growth - births against deaths - compared with Kaohsiung could be partly put down to the more favourable benefits and incentives offered to new parents in the city, Ms Chang added.

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