[photopress:zones_laodong_peninsula.jpg,full,alignright]There are so many economic zones — sometimes slightly disguised with other names — that it is easy to get confused.
A bit of history may help put it in perspective.
Since 1980, China has established special economic zones in Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou in Guangdong Province and Xiamen in Fujian Province, and designated the entire province of Hainan a special economic zone.
In 1984, China further opened 14 coastal cities—Dalian, Qinhuangdao, Tianjin, Yantai, Qingdao, Lianyungang, Nantong, Shanghai, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Zhanjiang and Beihai—to overseas investment.
In 1985, the state decided to expand the open coastal areas, extending the open economic zones of the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, Xiamen-Zhangzhou-Quanzhou Triangle in south Fujian, Shandong Peninsula, Liaodong Peninsula, Hebei and Guangxi into an open coastal belt.
In 1990, the Chinese government decided to open the Pudong New Zone in Shanghai to overseas investment, and opened more cities in the Yangtze River valley.
This has ended up as a chain of open cities extending up the Yangtze River valley, with Shanghai’s Pudong as the ‘dragon head.’
Since 1992, the State Council has opened a number of border cities, and in addition, opened all the capital cities of inland provinces and autonomous regions.
In addition, 15 free trade zones, 32 state-level economic and technological development zones, and 53 new- and high-tech industrial development zones have been established in large and medium-sized cities.
It is massive. Huge. Almost beyond comprehension.
Not all of these zones are the same. Not all have the same abjectives. But effectively they all play multiple roles in developing the foreign-oriented economy, generating foreign exchange through exporting products and importing advanced technologies and as ‘radiators’ in accelerating inland economic development.
How well does it work? Take a single example in a single place. 78 Chinese and foreign-funded financial institutions have been set up in Lujiazui, Pudong, of which 24 foreign-funded banks have been approved to engage in RMB business.
Or, on a wider scale, there are at least 5,900 foreign-funded enterprises, with a total investment of nearly US$30 billion, and there over 5,000 major domestic enterprises across the country with a total registered capital of about RMB20 billion.
Source: China in Brief