The McKinsey Global Institute, in its 2011 Urban World report, conjectured that 13 of the world’s 25 fastest-growing cities would be in mainland China, and that between 2007 and 2025, the country’s top 225 cities would be responsible for 30 percent of global economic growth.
Currently, several second-tier cities stand to take a position in the spotlight, and they are specializing their industries as a means to accelerate growth. These newly emerging economic hubs all have several factors going for them as they accelerate into major players, including lower labor costs and a younger population that places less burden on the social services compared to first-tier cities.
Economic growth: 14.5 percent in 2011
Specialty: Entertainment, construction
McKinsey says Changsha’s gross domestic product will triple between 2010 and 2025. This is not surprising, considering they are famous for building what the growing Chinese culture wants and needs: television programs and heavy machinery. Changsha’s local television network, known as Hunan TV, created the very popular, American Idol-like shows Chao Ji Nu Sheng (Super Girl) and Kuai Le Nan Sheng (Super Boy).
Construction companies Zoomlion and Sany, which call Changsha home, have also done extremely well during China’s building boom. Liang Wengen, one of China’s richest men, owns Sany and now the German cement-pump maker Putzmeister. By exporting excavators, truck cranes, and other specialty vehicles to India, Brazil, and Africa, Wengen has found another income draw.
Economic growth: 15 percent in 2011
Specialty: High-tech manufacturing
Dell and Texas Instruments have a presence in Chengdu. If it’s any indication of this city’s future, Intel recently moved its assembly and testing facility there from Shanghai.
Economic growth: 14 percent
Specialty: Transportation assembly
Thanks to the recent boom of second-tier cities, Shenyang is experiencing a resurrection of sorts: an industrial center when Japan occupied Manchuria, Shenyang’s economy plummeted in the 1990s when the state-owned factories closed. Now BMW and Boeing have brought assembly plants to the city, luring other foreign investors to follow.
Economic growth: 13 percent
Wuxi is called “little Shanghai” because of its close proximity to the city, rapid urbanization and booming economy. Wuxi also has a history of business people involved in modern Shanghai commerce since the early 20th century. A major push has been made by the Wuxi government to become a leader in new energy industries. The city is becoming the solar technology hub in China with two major solar panel manufacturers, Suntech and Jetion Holdings Ltd.
Economic growth: 14.5 percent
Historically a base of the military-industrial complex, Xi’an has emerged as an important cultural, industrial and educational center of the central-northwest region with facilities for research and development, national security, and China’s space exploration program. It is busy working to develop the nation’s aerospace industry.