Category Archives: Places

Hong Kong and the mainland’s intertwined economies

Caixin Global has a series of charts taking a deeper look at how intertwined Hong Kong’s economy is with the mainland. They are well worth a look. Highlights:  


  • Hong Kong’s plateauing investment in mainland 

In the first seven months of 2019, $55.37 billion of inbound direct investment in the mainland came from Hong Kong (including investment via free ports such as the Cayman Islands, Mauritius and Barbados), accounting for 70.27% of the total.  

  • Most inbound investment to China comes via Hong Kong 

The value of direct investment from Hong Kong in the mainland in 2018 was $89.9 billion — excluding investment through free ports — which was way more than investment from anywhere else. 

  • Most outbound investment flows through Hong Kong 

In 2017, $91.2 billion of the mainland’s outbound direct investment flowed into Hong Kong, making it the most important destination for mainland capital. Britain’s Virgin Islands ranked second, attracting $19.3 billion. 

  • Most tourists to Hong Kong come from the mainland 

In the first half of 2019, 27.6 million mainland tourists visited Hong Kong, accounting for nearly 80% of tourists to the city. Last year the number of mainland tourists to Hong Kong exceeded 50 million, a record high. 

  • Fewer mainland migrants to Hong Kong 

In 2017, the number of mainland migrants to Hong Kong was about 47,000, down 10,400 from the previous year. 

Guangzhou tops China’s ‘people magnets’

For all the attention being heaped on Shenzhen lately, Guangzhou is deserving some of its own, too. It is, after all, China’s No. 1 city in two measures much-loved by mainland residents: population mobility and urban vitality.

This is according to Baidu Map, the service that probably knows more about how people move around than any other. Among 100 Chinese cities surveyed by Baidu Map, Guangzhou topped the list with an “attractiveness index” of 14.277, ahead of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. 

Guangzhou had 14.904 million permanent residents at the end of last year. The government plans to increase its population to around 20 million by 2035. 

The reasons why Guangzhou is appealing to outsiders can be summarized as follows:

  • The city has fantastic landscape as well as mild and humid climate. It even ranked among the top five livable cities of China last year.
  • It has been at the forefront of Reform and Opening, with a dynamic economic structure and good public facilities, such as hospitals and universities.
  • A highly diversified economy provides more opportunities for job seekers from various sectors.
  • Industrial upgrading in the GBA has increased Guangzhou’s attractiveness as the southern China base for multinational companies.
  • House prices in Guangzhou are relatively more affordable compared to other major cities.

The local government has also rolled out a series of measures to attract talent. 

Nansha’s Mingzhu Bay gets eco-tourism focus

Guangzhou’s Nansha district government has released a plan for the subdistrict of Hengli, specifically related to its Mingzhu Bay area. Under the plan, Mingzhu Bay will be developed into an eco-tourism demonstration zone.

Hengli itself is being built as a World Financial Island (read our primer here.) But a key part of the plan is to attract international financial companies and talent, which is why Hengli also has a big area along its waterfront designed for lifestyle attractions. Therefore, with its abundance of high-quality ecological resources and a quaint rural culture, Mingzhu Bay is seen as an ideal spot to foster a new kind of tourism in the region – one that is low-impact, low-density and high value-added. 

Shenzhen to be China’s ‘international city’

Mainland media are flush with news, analysis and commentary today about the State Council’s latest big plan for Shenzhen. Released over the weekend, the 4,000-character document is being spoken of in reverential terms, with some calling it an outline of Shenzhen’s mission to “complete” the so-called “China Model” or “Beijing Consensus” of economic and social development. 

At first glance, the document does indeed carry some guidance that suggests Shenzhen has been chosen to lead the entire country in the next stage of its development. The reforms it has been tasked with are unique, and once implemented successfully, will be replicated across the rest of China. Chief of these is the exploration of “political change”. 

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Shenzhen’s ‘big four’ districts drive growth

Investors in China are wringing their hands after economic data for July showed declining indicators across the board. However, until we get detailed data for Guangdong, it is hard to know what that national data means for investors in the Greater Bay Area. What we do know is that in the first six months of the year, the nine GBA cities inside Guangdong mostly outperformed the national average, with particular strength seen in the province’s two Tier-1 cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Not only did they grow at rates nearly a full percentage point higher than the national average (7.1% vs. 6.2%), but their growth was accelerating over January to June.

Last week we explained how two of Guangzhou’s districts, Tianhe and Nansha, were propelling the city’s industrial upgrading in finance and tech. Today, we take a closer look at Shenzhen’s leading districts. Here, we see four, also being driven by growth in finance and tech, plus the buildout of the aerotropolis. They are: Nanshan (home to Tencent and others), Longgang (home to Huawei), Futian (home to Ping An) and Baoan (home to the airport).

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Dongguan tech investment surges in 1H

It is little wonder Huawei chose Dongguan as the site of its biggest-ever developer conference, which is currently taking place at its new R&D-focused campus that looks like a mini-Europe. The city has released data showing that investment in “technological upgrading” shot up nearly 50% in the first half of the year.

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Huizhou: Set for an upgrade

With forests, beaches and traditional villages, Huizhou has big potential in tourism. The city is also aiming to ride the tech-upgrade momentum created by the GBA masterplan. Here is a deeper dive into one of the Bay’s more spacious municipalities.

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E-commerce giants move into Zhongshan

As a traditional manufacturing base, Zhongshan has a collection of clusters in home appliances, lighting and apparel. That might not set anyone’s hair on fire, given how the Greater Bay Area has been turning gung-ho on industrial upgrading since the release of the masterplan in February. However, they are just what is needed by some of the country’s biggest e-commerce behemoths.

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