This City Was Ranked China’s Best Performer in 2019

By Ryan Gandolfo, October 29, 2019

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Sorry Shenzheners, the southern seaside metropolis is no longer the nation’s best-performing city, according to the Milken Institute 2019 report.

The top performer among Chinese cities goes to the capital of Sichuan province – Chengdu. The city, known for cute giant pandas and fiery hot pot, among other attractive features, tops China’s best-performing cities ranking for the third year since Milken Institute – a US-based independent economic think tank – began the series in 2015. The 62-page report, authored by Perry Wong, Michael C.Y. Lin and Jessica Jackson, takes a deep dive into China’s first, second and third-tiered cities, ranking cities in two groups – small city and large city – based on economic performance. The paper takes into consideration each city’s growth in employment, wages and per-capital gross regional product (GRP) over one-year and five-year periods.

Chengdu moved up seven spots from last year’s ranking, which the authors attributed to its geographic location, investments in a 10,000-kilometer Chengdu-Europe Express Rail, as well as increasing interest in developing manufacturing and technology parks in the region. The city, which had a registered population of around 14.4 million in 2017, is also noted for taking the appropriate measures to protect the environment while benefiting from growth in ecotourism.

Just behind Chengdu, in the second spot, Shenzhen will likely remain high on the best-performing cities list for years to come, with a robust high value-added industry and home to some of China’s biggest names in tech. The city bordering Hong Kong is expected to see even more support from the central government after President Xi Jinping endorsed a special status that will allow Shenzhen to become a model for other Chinese mainland cities, with bolder reforms and innovation-focused development.

Beijing was ranked as the third best-performing city, jumping up nine spots from last year. Shanghai ranked No. 14, followed right behind by Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province. Both cities ranked in the top 10 two years ago, with Shanghai at No. 1 and Guangzhou at No. 9. 

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Image via Milken Institute

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Image via Milken Institute

As for the best-performers in the small cities group, Guangdong’s Dongguan topped the list for the second consecutive year, largely due to its status as a manufacturing and export hub. Although the city has seen many manufacturers move to other countries (primarily in Southeast Asia), it still remains a key hub for smartphone manufacturing. In recent years, the city has presented policies that will make Dongguan an advanced manufacturing base focused more on automated equipment and robotics. 

Sitting at No. 3, Zhuhai moved up two spots from 2018 ranking. The report notes that the city’s transportation and industrial infrastructure has been improved greatly with the completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in 2018. 

Suzhou has consistently ranked in the top 10 in the small cities group ranking since the series began, and is said to be transforming into a hub for high value-added industries. And similar to the Greater Bay Area, Suzhou is a part of a regional city cluster, located next to Shanghai, Nantong and Taizhou – the latter two of which are in the top 5 in the small cities group.

Screen-Shot-2019-10-29-at-11.39.32-AM.pngImage via Milken Institute


Image via Milken Institute

READ MORE: This City Was Ranked China’s Top Spot for Leisure

[Cover image via Pixabay]

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