This article provides an overview of Chongqing for those keen on exploring the possibility of living and working there. The information presented is gathered from open sources and is not exhaustive or meant to supplement or substitute legal and professional advice.
- Land area: 82,400 sq km
- Population (2016): 30.48 million
- Gross Domestic Product (2016): RMB 1,774.059 billion
- Gross Domestic Product per capita (2016): RMB 58,502
Chongqing is located at the confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers in southwest China. It is surrounded by Hubei and Hunan to the east, Guizhou to the south, Sichuan to the west and north, and Shaanxi at its northeast corner. It was established as one of the four direct-controlled municipalities in 1997 and the only one in west China. Chongqing reports directly to the central government. Comprising 21 districts and 17 counties, it has become the largest economic centre in west China as well as an important transportation hub and an inland port.
Chongqing is one of the fastest growing cities in China, with an annual GDP growth rate of more than 10 percent in recent years. Besides the construction of the Three Gorges Dam Project, its rapid economic growth could also be attributed to China’s “favourable policies”, particularly the “Go West” strategy launched in 2000, which aims to generate investment in western China. Chongqing has largely benefited from the policy and became a significant trading and manufacturing hub as well as a major gateway to west China. With its strategic location, Chongqing is also “a key strategic node” of the Belt and Road Initiative, which was unveiled in 2013 and aims to connect 65 countries across three continents through China.
Chongqing is one of China’s oldest industrial bases, and its major industries include automobiles, iron and steel and aluminium. Heavy industry is the backbone of Chongqing, accounting for 74.3 percent of its gross industrial output in 2015. However, Chongqing is moving towards the manufacturing of electronic and high technology products. In December 2000, its municipal government established the Chongqing New North Zone (CNNZ), a modern industrial base aimed at developing high-tech industries. This drove many leading multinational enterprises such as Hewlett-Packard, Foxconn, Inventec, Acer, IBM, Honeywell, CISCO and HP, to set up their businesses in Chongqing.
Foreign trade and investment
Chongqing’s total imports and exports reached US$74.5 billion in 2015 but declined to US$62.8 billion in 2016. The United States was its leading export market, accounting for 24 percent of its total exports. Other major export markets include Germany, Hong Kong and South Korea. Major import sources were Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia. Singapore’s total imports and exports with Chongqing amounted to US$147.7 million in 2016, a decrease from the US$213.6 million achieved in 2015.
Over the years, many multinational companies from the electronic industries have established their presence in Chongqing. By the end of 2016, 272 of the world’s top 500 companies have set up operations there. With the Belt and Road Initiative, Chongqing is expected to seek more foreign investment and trade opportunities.
Chongqing is an important consumer market in southwest China due to its large population. Its per capita disposal income of urban households in 2016 was RMB 29,610, an increase of 8.7 percent from 2015. Its total retail sales of consumer goods reached RMB 727.1 billion in 2016, up 13.2 percent from the RMB 642.4 billion achieved the previous year. Some of the major local and overseas retailers that have established their presence in Chongqing include Gome from Beijing, Carrefour from France, Walmart from the United States and Metro from Germany.
Chongqing enjoys a great natural and cultural heritage. Besides its breathtaking landscapes of mountains, rivers, forests, springs, waterfall gorges and caves, Chongqing also has the Dazu Rock Carvings, the Three Gorges, Small Little Gorges and the Natural Pit and Land Crack in Fengjie. Chongqing boasts a number of historic sites and tourist attractions. These include the residence of General Joseph Stillwell, an American army general who was the Chief of Staff in the China Theater of Operations and Commander-in-Chief of the American army in the China Burma India (CBI) Theater, the site of the provisional government of the Republic of Korea, and the Fishermen’s Castle in Hechuan, an ancient battlefield and the Capital of the Ghost World in Fengdu.
Singapore and Chongqing
Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI) is a Singapore-China government-led project launched in 2015. The CCI is aimed at supporting China’s key development strategies and enhancing connectivity in the areas of finance, aviation, transport and logistics and info-communication technology.
In August 2017, Singapore and Chongqing signed agreements for two joint ventures: the Chongqing Logistics Development Platform (CLDP) and the Multi-Modal Distribution and Connectivity (DC) Centre. These ventures aim to help “develop Chongqing into an inland international logistics hub and contribute to the development of the CCI Southern Transport Corridor”, which in turn aims to enhance connectivity between west China and Southeast Asia.
Other commercial signings between Singapore and Chongqing include the following:
- China-Europe Rail Logistics plans to develop less-than-container-load freight consolidation using Yu’Xin’Ou railway to expand China and Europe sales markets.
- BASH @ Chongqing aims to establish an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre to groom talent, adopt acceleration/incubation methodologies from Singapore, and develop Chongqing as a springboard into the rest of China.
- Data Analytics Collaboration wants to provide cross-border information services (e.g. credit ratings) and business assessment tools developed through advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other web technologies.
- B2B Creative Services Platform works towards developing a B2B bilingual online creative services platform targeted at small medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia.
- China-Singapore Talent Centre plans to implement joint projects in areas such as training of both government officials and the managers of state-owned companies. It also wants to develop technical personnel, talent exchange, corporate collaboration, project consultancy and knowledge transfer.
- Cross-Border Financial Innovation and Cross-Border Trade Financing plan to promote in-depth collaboration on cross-border financial innovation so as to bring about, firstly, a modern connectivity of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) pilot project, and secondly, dual factoring service for trade financing respectively.
- Singapore-Chongqing Medical Centre aims to promote a strategic cooperation partnership to cooperate in healthcare-related projects.