The space between the big industrial hubs of the Yangtze River Delta is littered with dozens of lesser-known cities that in fact do much of the producing for the region. CHINA ECONOMIC REVIEW held an event on April 9 highlighting the Xiuzhou district of Jiaxing, an up-and-coming “X-tier” (that is, anywhere from third- to fifth-tier) city nestled between powerhouses Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou.
Jiaxing, with its lower costs and pro-business government, presents an attractive alternative to those three cities, said F.C. Kwong, industrial director at property consultancy DTZ. The opening this summer of the 32-kilometer Hangzhou Bay Bridge, he added, will bring Jiaxing closer to a fourth major hub, Ningbo.
Marty Paugh, president of Global Resources International, an electronics manufacturer that relocated from the outskirts of Hangzhou to Xiuzhou five years ago, noted that the bridge was one consideration in the move, but so was the living environment for his employees.
While many of the region’s cities are known as low-value production centers, Jiaxing is climbing the value chain. Wealth is a key factor in terms of the industries an X-tier city attracts, said Bill Dodson of Silk Road Advisors. Jiaxing’s per capita GDP, at more than US$5,000, puts it in the region’s upper range. This makes the city more attractive for higher-end industries such as high-tech manufacturing and IT outsourcing, he said. “Jiaxing is definitely a city to watch over the next five years.”