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These 10 Chinese Cities Have the Most Competitive Economies

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Category: Business in Asia
China's Top Cities for Economic Competitiveness - SJ Grand

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences published its annual ranking of Chinese cities’ economic competitiveness on June 24. Shenzhen kept the top position for the 5th consecutive year, followed by Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Take a look at some of our previous articles: 2019 Policy Updates – E-commerce Law of China

Now in its 17th year, the China Urban Competitiveness Report was one of the first to compare the competitiveness of Chinese cities based on their sustainability, livability and business-friendliness. Data from over 293 cities on the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau was compiled to produce the 2018 report.

The list is a powerful tool to guide government departments and foreign and domestic companies in their investments decisions.

Keep reading as we go through key highlights from this year’s report.

Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Shanghai Still Lead the Pack in Economic Competitiveness

Shenzhen, who stole the top spot from Hong Kong in 2014, was still the most economically competitive city in China last year according to report findings. There were only slight changes to the makeup of the top 10 cities list. Specifically, Guangzhou and Beijing both gained 1 spot in the ranking, standing in 4th and 5th place respectively. Similarly, Suzhou and Nanjing both rose 2 spots to 6th and 7th place respectively.

Guangdong province’s manufacturing hub Dongguan leaped into the top 10 for the first time, stealing the 10th spot from Tianjin.

Hong Kong, Wuxi and Hangzhou kept their spots as the most livable destinations in China. The trio has been leading the list of most livable cities for 3 years now.

The Yangtze River Delta region is very well-represented in this year’s ranking, with 6 cities listed in the top 10. These include Wuxi (2), Hangzhou (3), Nantong (4), Nanjing (6), Ningbo (9) and Zhenjiang (10). Besides, Central and Northern metropolitan areas saw the most dramatic changes, with cities like Shijiazhuang, Tangshan, Taiyuan, Chongqing, and Jinan climbing 45 , 30 , 28 , 17 and 11 spots respectively.

According to the report, economic vitality, access to quality education and health infrastructure were some of the key factors analyzed to produce the livability index.

Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai: The Best Cities for Business

Not sure where to start your China business? Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai may well be your best choice according to the report.

First-tier cities are in fact well-ahead of their 2-tier and 3-tier counterparts in terms of business friendliness. Nonetheless, experts from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences expect these mega urban centers to act as catalysts for smaller surrounding cities to thrive and close that gap in the very near future. Also noteworthy is Chongqing’s ranking in 9th position, the only city in Western China to make it into the top 10.

A 70% Urbanization Rate by 2035

The report highlights that China is still in a transitional period in terms of urbanization, with strong regional disparities. In particular, the North-South gap has considerably widened in 2018, with Southern cities rising 5.4 places on average in the competitiveness index. On the other hand, Northern cities like Shenyang and Dalian fell sharply in the ranking, dropping 20 and 36 spots respectively.

With increased urbanization also come new risks and threats for the Chinese economy. Among these are poor urban-rural integration, rising unemployment rates and real estate speculation. Market-oriented reform shall help China realize high-quality, sustainable growth and transformation to a high-income country. By 2035, China’s urbanization rate is forecast to be on par with Western European countries like Italy and Switzerland. with around 1 billion Chinese citizens will be living and working in urban areas.

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