An Introduction to Kunshan, China’s Richest County-Level City
Welcome to the wealthiest and most innovative county-level city in China
By Vivian Ni
Apr. 20 – While investors may have learned abundant information on key cities in Jiangsu Province such as Nanjing, Suzhou and Wuxi from China Briefing’s City Guide series, they should now also put the city of Kunshan – China’s richest county-level city – on their list when considering expanding or relocating their businesses.
Located in southeastern Jiangsu Province, bordering Shanghai, Kunshan is a satellite city in the greater Suzhou region. Last year, Kunshan’s gross regional product reached RMB210 billion, becoming the first-ever county-level city with an annual GRP exceeding RMB200 billion.The city has received numerous awards for its rapid economic growth over the past decade and has stayed No. 1 on the governmental “Top 100 Best Developed County-level Economies in China” ranking since 2005. Forbes China also ranked the city first in its “25 Best County-level Cities in China” study in 2010.
Capital-intensive and export-oriented economy
Kunshan’s heavy reliance on foreign direct investment and exporting has attracted investors from 65 countries all over the world. Among the more than 5,000 programs introduced, 63 of them were invested by Fortune 500 companies. Contractual FDI has achieved US$33 billion, with US$23 billion already placed in actual use.
Locally nicknamed “Mini Taipei,” investors from Taiwan contributed 51 percent to the total FDI volume in the city. Over 2,000 Taiwan-invested businesses have brought an investment of US$15 billion over the past 10 years.
The sizable foreign capital inducement, along with the large amount of immigrant residents, has also driven the city’s regional demand and greatly contributed to the local development in retail, food and beverage industry as well as services.
Kunshan New & Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone for an innovation-driven development
Kunshan’s economic development mode is experiencing a transition period, as the local government has come to realize the importance of transferring external drive into internal force for economic growth. Carrying this purpose, the government promoted the Kunshan New & High-tech Industrial Development Zone (KSND) to a national high-tech zone in 2010, and gave out various incentives to increase the influx of high-tech enterprises and emerging industries to the zone. The KSND is also the first state-level high-tech zone in China’s county level cities.
Located in the downtown of Kunshan City and integrating distinct city resources, the KSND places focus on the industries of precision machinery, renewable energy and electronic information. Benefitting from the “National Torch Plan” that encourages technological innovation, the KSND boasts several essential national-level industrial bases, including a mould manufacturing base and renewable energy (mostly solar and wind energy) base.
The high-tech zone is also a pioneer nationwide in promoting digital equipment and bio pharmaceutical industries, with specific emphasis on robot and siRNA manufacturing.
The total industrial output in the zone achieved RMB155 billion, with new-tech industries contributing 58 percent. The zone’s annual GRP reached RMB44.5 billion, taking up over 20 percent of the city’s GRP. Among the various development zones in Jiangsu Province, the KSND has stood in the fifth position in terms of comprehensive competitiveness since 2007.
The establishment of more than 4,200 businesses in the zone has greatly enriched and internationalized the local government’s management experience. Not only do the governmental agencies provide streamlined services including business license applications, recruitment and custom applications, they also provide favorable policies to company headquarters, high-tech programs, leading personnel and training projects.
Investors seeking a one-stop service for their business expansion and relocation may go to Plainvim – the Hong Kong-based property developer that has a close cooperation with the local government and boasts a major industrial park presence within the KSND. Based on its rich operating experience across the country, Plainvim Kunshan provides high-quality services of consultation, civil engineering, security, greenery, cleaning, property inspection and maintenance, catering, dormitory, logistics and warehousing.
The KSND’s expansion and industrial upgrades have greatly contributed to Kunshan’s innovation competence. The city has topped in the governmental “Synthesized Evaluation of Innovative Competence of County-level Cities” for four consecutive years by 2010. More and more products are not only “made in Kunshan,” but also “designed in Kunshan.”
Living in Kunshan
As a city with an immigrant population even larger than the number of its permanent residents, Kunshan has been utilizing an innovative approach to granting migrants the rights to essential city services. It won the United Nations’ HABITAT Scroll of Honor Award in 2010, along with Singapore and Vienna, for its advanced human settlements development.
Enjoying great geographical convenience and well-developed infrastructure, people living in Kunshan will also find it handy to access other key Yangtze River Delta cities. It takes only 45 minutes to drive from the city to the Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, and 90 minutes to the Pudong International Airport.
Dezan Shira & Associates is a boutique professional services firm providing foreign direct investment business advisory, tax, accounting, payroll and due diligence services for multinational clients in China. For advice on what development zones in China best suit the needs of your business, please email email@example.com, visit www.dezshira.com, or download the firm’s brochure here.
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188 pages. A complete overview of Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta, including the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Zhejiang, and with detailed introductions to the cities of Changshu, Changzhou, Hangzhou, Hefei, Huzhou, Jiangyin, Jiangxi, Kunshan, Nanjing, Nantong, Ningbo, Shanghai, Shaoxing, Suzhou, Taicang, Taizhou, Wenzhou, Wuxi, Yangzhou, Yiwu, Zhangjiagang, Zhenjiang and Zhoushan.
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