This article provides an overview of selected municipalities and provinces in China 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.
This overview covers the municipalities of Chongqing and Tianjin, and the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu, Liaoning, Shandong, Shaanxi, Sichuan and Zhejiang. These municipalities and provinces were selected as Singapore has business councils, as well as substantial trade and investments with them. The business councils provide platforms for Singapore companies to network with Chinese government officials and communities. They also deepen collaboration at the provincial level and help to strengthen bilateral relations and the internationalisation of Singapore companies.
The two municipalities and seven provinces experienced high economic growth in 2019 with their year-on-year GDP growth ranging from 4.8 to 7.5 percent.
|Province / Municipality
||Population (2019) (Million)
||GDP (2019) (RMB Billion)
||Per Capita GDP (2019) (RMB)
||GDP Growth (2019) (%)
Source: Data & Profiles – Mainland China Provinces & Cities. Hong Kong Trade Development Council. [https://research.hktdc.com/en/data-and-profiles/mcpc]
Chongqing is the operating HQ of Singapore’s and China’s third government-to-government project – the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI). Chongqing is currently developing its advanced manufacturing capabilities in fields such as aviation, electric vehicles, biomedicine, medical equipment and new materials. Chongqing is home to many notable Singapore projects including Raffles City Chongqing (Capitaland’s largest investment in China to date), Raffles Medical Group’s first general hospital in China and Sembcorp Industries’ group of power plants.
Tianjin is home to the Singapore-China government-to-government platform project – Tianjin Eco-City. Its pillar industries include manufacturing, electronics, and petrochemicals. Tianjin is often designated as a pilot area for financial innovation as well as policy experiments, making it a region to watch for businesses. Singapore projects in Tianjin include YCH and Mapletree’s logistics facilities in Tianjin Binhai New Area Airport Logistics Park, PSA’s container port terminal joint venture project with Tianjin Port Group, and Lian Huat Group’s integrated business park in Beichen District.
Guangdong province and Singapore have been strong economic and trade partners over the years and have developed deep and diverse linkages, especially with new developments in the Greater Bay Area (GBA). Beyond the key cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Singapore companies are venturing into other cities in the GBA, such as Huizhou. Rich in land resources, Huizhou is leveraging its strong foundation in the electronics and petrochemicals sectors, to develop the Infocomm Technology and new materials clusters to further its growth. Additionally, Singapore companies have found opportunities in sectors such as smart city solutions and financial services.
Jiangsu is Singapore’s largest investment destination in China. Bolstered by the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park, the first Singapore-China government-to-government project, and the Sino-Singapore Nanjing Eco Hi-tech Island, Singapore has cultivated strong relationships with Jiangsu’s provincial and municipal governments. Key Singapore projects in Jiangsu include CapitaLand’s Suzhou Centre and Keppel’s Nantong Shipyard.
Since the province is still in the nascent stages of its economic transformation, there is less competition in its cities compared to first-tier cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. This makes Liaoning an ideal location for SMEs looking to venture to China. PSA’s first overseas project was in Dalian where it formed a joint venture with Dalian Port Authority to develop the Dalian Container Port. Ascendas-Singbridge has a joint venture with Dalian Software Park to form Dalian Ascendas IT Park. Companies in Liaoning include Armstrong’s manufacturing plant and CapitaLand Township in Shenyang, Etonhouse’s International school in Dalian and Q&M’s dental centres.
Shaanxi is the largest economy in northwest China, and also serves as the gateway to Central Asian and European countries under the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). Xi’an, the capital city of Shaanxi, is the province’s most developed and vibrant city. It accounts for over one-third of Shaanxi’s GDP and over 90 percent of its FDI. With comparatively lower overheads and a huge pool of talent, Xi’an is an attractive destination city for both startups and established high-tech enterprises. This strong ecosystem has persuaded global firms such as Micron and Samsung to set up semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the city. Singapore companies such as CapitaLand, Banyan Tree, Surbana Jurong, Mapletree Logistics and Ascott have a presence in Xi’an, while Straco has been operating a cable car service at Lishan since the 1990s.
Shandong is the second most populous province and one of the largest consumer markets in China.
While Jinan is the provincial capital, Qingdao, the coastal city, remains the province’s leading industrial centre. The key demand drivers are rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. Urban solutions, infrastructure (BRI) and tertiary services are key sectors of interest to Singapore companies.
Notable Singapore companies in Shandong include Engro Corporation, EtonHouse, CapitaMalls Asia, Pacific International Lines, Freshening, Prima Limited, Viking Airtech and DBS.
Sichuan is West China’s largest economy, and home to over 80 million residents. Its comparatively low labour and land costs, as well as enhanced connectivity, have attracted investors seeking cheaper production bases in inland China. Sichuan is developing its advanced manufacturing capabilities in areas such as aviation, electric vehicles, biomedicine, medical equipment, oil and gas drilling, digitally controlled machine tools and robots, and new materials. Notable Singapore companies in Sichuan include Etonhouse, Mapletree Logistics, Perennial, Rigel Technology, Keppel Land, Awfully Chocolate and House of Seafood.
Home to global e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, Zhejiang houses the China (Hangzhou) Cross-Border E-Commerce Pilot Zone, the nation’s first comprehensive pilot zone for cross-border e-commerce. With a robust ecosystem of suppliers, distributors, technology, capital and end-users, Zhejiang’s capital of Hangzhou is an attractive destination for Singapore technology firms.
The Zhejiang (Zhoushan) Free Trade Zone will spur commodity trade liberalisation, while facilities such as the Ascendas Singapore – Hangzhou Science & Technology Park (SHSTP) provide attractive landing pads for firms looking to develop new technologies. Key Singapore projects in Zhejiang include Ascendas Singapore, Consort Bunker and Anacle Asia Pacific R&D Centre.