Companies come, it would seem, because other companies have made a success of it, and success breeds success. So the genesis of the Suzhou manufacturing boom is a deal the city did with Singapore in the early 1990s, when Suzhou was probably in a worse position in terms of attracting foreign investment than, say, Ningbo. At least Ningbo has a port.
There are two main zones in Suzhou and thereby hangs a tale, but the end of the story is that Singapore's involvement in the first zone – the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Zone opened nine years ago – has dropped from 65 percent to 35 percent equity. The Chinese took over majority control with the Singaporeans getting a price based on an "international audit" of the asset value, Chinese officials say. The bottom line is that the Singaporean involvement allowed the zone to establish itself.
"The original reason for the success of the zone undoubtedly was the Singapore cooperation," said Xu Ming, Director of the Economic and Trade development Bureau of the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park. "It gave a sense of confidence to investors, due to the credibility of the Singapore Government. But now they come because they can see how successful other companies that are here are."