Category Archives: Cities

Shenzhen’s rise as an eco-city

This Reuters article takes a closer look at the way Shenzhen reinvented itself, from being one of the world’s worst polluters to what it is today – by deciding that development had to be balanced with respect for, and protection of, the environment.

Under its constitutional goal of developing an “ecological civilization,” Shenzhen, as one of China’s three sustainable-development zones, has been tasked with serving as a technology testbed for “green solutions” in sectors such as waste and environmental restoration. Read more.

Shenzhen 3rd in work, #1 in play

Shenzhen is ranked third in terms of business environment out of the top 100 cities in China, according to the latest report by the Beijing-based nonprofit economic think tank, Wanbo Institute.

The report assessed the cities’ soft power and was based on seven indicators: natural environment, infrastructure, technological innovation, talent, financial, cultural and living.

Shenzhen follows Shanghai and Beijing on the list, with Guangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Chengdu and Xi’an rounding out the top 10.

Shenzhen is ranked first, however, in terms of its overall environment. The city has achieved a good balance between economic growth and improvement of quality of life, according to the report. Shenzhen ranks first in terms of air quality among the 20 Chinese cities with the highest GDP.

Read more (in Chinese).

Four Chinese cities in ‘billionaire cities’ list

Hong Kong and Shenzhen, along with other two Chinese cities of Beijing and Hangzhou, are among the top 15 “billionaire cities” in the world, according to a new report released by Wealth-X, an international consultancy.

Hong Kong had 87 billionaire individuals at the end of 2018, down from 93 in 2017, but still clung to the second-highest rung on the list following New York, which had 105, according to the 2019 Billionaire Census.

Beijing ranked sixth with 55 of these super-wealthy and Shenzhen eleventh with 37.

The 31 billionaires of Hangzhou, home to e-commerce titan Alibaba, enabled it to leapfrog Tokyo into the 14th slot last year.

Download the full report here.

Guangzhou-Macau business booms

Trade volumes between Guangzhou and Macau jumped to US$485 million in 2018, up 40.9% year on year, according to official statistics. As of March, Guangzhou has 430 projects invested in by Macau enterprises, worth US$681 million, while Guangzhou has set up 23 in Macao, worth US$199 million. 

Macau also launched a weeklong promotional event in Guangzhou on May 9 to promote Macau, Portuguese products, food and fashion as well as technology and innovation. Read more (in Chinese).

Dongguan’s smart manufacturing DNA

Here’s another interesting feature story about Dongguan, which appeared in the Guangzhou Daily.

Dongguan Mayor Han Yafei said at last month’s China Development Forum that one out of every four mobile phones in the world is made in Dongguan. Only few months ago, it was still only one in five.

The opening of the Nansha Bridge and the announcement of the manufacturing industry’s tax rate reduced to 13% from 16% have given the manufacturing industry along the Pearl River Delta a new boost and Dongguan seems to be poised to reap the benefits, according to the report.

Currently, Dongguan is the centre of an enviable supply chain of smart phone manufacturing, from design concepts to component manufacturing to overall unit production. The city has 73 communications technology enterprises. The mobile phone output of Huawei, OPPO and Vivo are China’s top three and, together with Apple and Samsung, the world’s top five.

At the city’s harborside new district, OPPO recently secured a 800,000 square meter parcel for RMB517 million. The company plans to invest RMB5 billion in the next four years to build another smart manufacturing center there.

In the same area sits China’s flagship state-owned chipmaker, Tsinghua Unigroup, with a 2000-acre industrial park that took in over RMB100 billion of investment, the largest in Dongguan’s history.

All of this could be said goes back to 1995, when the world’s then-leading phone-maker, Nokia, picked the city as its manufacturing base. It was soon followed by Samsung. Both companies formed an upstream and downstream supply chain in the area.

Also in the same year, Chinese entrepreneur Duan Yongping, a widely regarded business leader, was attracted to found BBK Electronics. The company produced cells phones, VCD players, DVD players, TVs and computers, which later morphed into some of China’s leading IT manufacturing enterprises, of which OPPO and VIVO are the best-known.

In 2011, both OPPO and VIVO entered the smartphone manufacturing industry. Today, there are about 1,000 downstream and upstream enterprises in the area supporting these two major phone-makers.

Dongguan waves goodbye to the Nokia era

For Chinese readers, there is a feature story about Dongguan worth looking at in the latest issue of National Business Daily. It begins with an event that took place last week, when the city’s Natural Resources Bureau issued a public notice on the redevelopment of the old Nokia factory, which closed in 2015 after 20 years of operations. That closure marked the beginning of a major transition for Dongguan away from traditional manufacturing and hurtling toward a new era of “smart manufacturing”. It is today the fastest-growing of the 11 major cities in the GBA.

In the feature, titled “Waving goodbye to the Nokia era”, the story of Dongguan’s metamorphosis from an agricultural county to a manufacturing hub looks further into the future and examines the possibilities brought to the city by the Greater Bay Area initiative.

It has not always been an easy journey up to this point. In 2008, the global financial crisis highlighted the vulnerability of Dongguan to the vagaries of low-end manufacturing in a competitive globalized marketplace. Rising labor costs led many OEM companies to flee the city, forcing Dongguan to shift its focus to high-end manufacturing.

There were some bold decision-makers around, fortunately. In early 2013, China International Marine Containers Group invested RMB6 billion in south Dongguan’s Songshan Lake district to build a new kind of industrial park. In 2014, the world’s largest paper manufacturer, Nine Dragons Paper, chose Songshan Lake as its headquarters. Tech giant Huawei also recently built a replica of European township here to house its 2,700-strong work force, which moved over from Shenzhen.

Bordering Shenzhen, Songshan Lake has attracted Foxconn, cloud computing service provider ChinaSoft International, optical product manufacturer Lens Technology and biotech company 3SBIO, among many others. The Dongguan government has meanwhile invested RMB2.7 billion in building a robotics industry base here, attracting more than 156 companies. In 2017, Songshan Lake recorded RMB38.6 billion in GDP; For 2018, it’s estimated to reach RMB63 billion, up 63%.

Songshan Lake’s ascent mirrors Dongguan’s transformation as a whole. The development blueprint of the Greater Bay Area has given Zhuhai and Foshan the responsibility of building a manufacturing industrial belt for high end equipment, while Dongguan, along with Shenzhen, is tasked with creating a globally competitive industrial cluster for online businesses.

Dongguan lags quite a way behind Shenzhen and Guangzhou, at less than half their size in GDP. Its industrial hinterland is not as wide as Guangzhou’s, while it is not seen as being as open to new forms of fundraising or services as Shenzhen is.

Moreover, the article says, Dongguan needs to improve its connectivity to other cities as well as polish its brand image. This is being worked on: the opening of the new Nansha Bridge on April 2 will reduce commute times from other cities and counties, while numerous road and rail projects are under way to bring Dongguan within the one-hour living circle of the Greater Bay Area.