China now has more than 100 cities with a population of over one million people, making the process of choosing the best home for a business a major challenge. However, a new report co-authored by PricewaterhouseCoopers makes all this easier, by pointing to a pair of major cites just up the Pearl River from Hong Kong as offering China’s best combination of human capital, modern infrastructure, supporting services and other conditions favorable to development.
Chinese Cities of Opportunity 2017, which was produced by the financial services giant together with mainland non-profit, the China Development Research Foundation (CDRF), ranked Guangzhou as the top city for economic opportunity on the mainland, with Shenzhen close behind.
Next on the list for best supporting economic growth and building businesses were Hangzhou, in Zhejiang province; Wuhan in Hubei; and Jiangsu’s capital, Nanjing.
The rankings, which covered 28 cities across China, leaned heavily toward communities in the Pearl River Delta in the south and the Yangtze River Delta in eastern China, which have long been economic powerhouses.
Calling Beijing and Shanghai “incomparable metropolises” the report put these two megacities in a different league, tucked into their own appendix at the back of the document.
Measuring the New Urbanisation
PwC sees the report as an important barometer in measuring the development on cities in China.
“This report can help provide points of reference for advancing the concept of new urbanization,” Bob Mortiz, Global Chairman at PwC, said. “Indeed, a healthy development of Chinese cities will add to China’s growth as well as the global economy.”
The study looked at a total of 57 variables grouped into ten key indicators including intellectual capital and innovation; technology readiness; important regional cities; healthcare, safety and security; transportation and urban planning; sustainability and the natural environment; culture and lifestyle; economic clout; and cost and ease of doing business.
On those ten dimensions, Guangzhou scored top marks in intellectual capital and innovation, regional importance and healthcare and safety; Shenzhen scored first in technological readiness, transport, sustainability, economic clout and ease of doing business. All told, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, together with PRD neighbor Zhuhai dominated nearly all of the categories. Among the Guangdong rivals, Shenzhen gained an edge for its high tech sectors, while Guangzhou scored high in logistics.
Beijing and Shanghai Deserve Love Too
Arguably the two most important cities in China, Beijing and Shanghai were left out of the study because they were already featured in PwC’s Cities of Opportunities 7, in which the two powerhouses weighed in against world cities.
In the Cities of Opportunities 7, Beijing and Shanghai came in at 20 and 23 respectively. Beijing came in third for economic clout and first and second in airport to CBD access but lagged in sustainability and, of course, air pollution. Shanghai ranked number one in math and science and fairly high with tech readiness, but fell behind because of the cost of living and difficulties in doing business.