This article provides an overview of Zhejiang 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: 104,116 sq km
- Population (2015): 55.39 million
- Provincial capital: Hangzhou
- Gross Regional Product (GRP) (2015): RMB 4.286648 trillion
- Per Capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (2015): RMB 77,644
- Major cities: Hangzhou, Ningbo, Jiaxing, Shaoxing, Wenzhou, Taizhou
Although Zhejiang is one of China’s smallest province-level political units, it is also one of the most densely populated and affluent. This coastal province is bounded by the East China Sea to the east, Fujian province to the south, Jiangxi province to the southwest, Anhui province to the west, Jiangsu province to the north, and Shanghai municipality to the northeast. Apart from advanced infrastructure such as 2,600 km of railway and nearly 120,000 km of highway, the province is home to the port city of Ningbo, one of the world’s busiest.
Data Source: Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
Zhejiang has the fourth largest economy in China. Over the past decade, the economy has been averaging 9.8 percent growth. The biggest sector in the economy is services, with a further 46 percent contributed by secondary industries, including manufacturing. The province is also an attractive destination for foreign direct investment, with 61.5 percent coming from Hong Kong. Other sources of foreign investment include Germany, Japan, the United States and Singapore.
Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Shaoxing, Taizhou and Jiaxiang are the major cities in Zhejiang.
With a population of 9.01 million, Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang, is the province’s only second-tier city. It sits at the southern end of the Grand Canal that extends all the way to Beijing. In 2015, Hangzhou was ranked as China’s 22nd most competitive city with a GDP of RMB 1.00502 billion and a per capita income of RMB 139,653. The industrial sector accounted for 35 percent of the city’s GDP.
At 41.9 percent, the city was the largest recipient of US$18.05 billion worth of foreign direct investment that flowed into Zhejiang in 2016, followed by Ningbo (26.7 percent) and Jiaxing (15.1 percent). Startups are attracted to Hangzhou because it is an easy entry point into the large Chinese market. Venture capital platform Venturecraft, which is backed by Sun Tongyu, a founder of Alibaba, has been helping Singaporean startups set up their business in the Singapore-Hangzhou Science & Technology Park for free. It also supports high-tech startups by helping them source for working capital and funding, as well as connections to mentors.
Hangzhou is home to a number of major e-commerce players in the Chinese market and is challenging Shenzhen and Beijing for the title of “China’s Silicon Valley”. It is the hometown of the Alibaba Group, the country’s largest B2B online portal. The company has a market capitalisation of US$264.9 billion as at May 2017. The other major e-commerce player based in Hangzhou is Net Ease.
Equipment manufacturing is the city’s largest industry. Other industries include textiles, garments, food and beverages, IT and pharmaceuticals. Some of the well-known brands with a presence in Hangzhou include Shell, Motorola, Auchan and DuPont.
The port city of Ningbo is the world’s busiest in terms of throughput tonnage, with over 900 million tonnes of goods passing through Ningbo-Zhoushan port in 2016. China’s Ministry of Commerce has designated Ningbo as a national hub for distributive trade and logistics.
In 2015, the industrial sector contributed 45 percent to the city’s GDP of RMB 800.36 billion. The main industries in Ningbo are petrochemicals, chemicals, electrical machinery, telecom equipment manufacturing, IT and port-related activities.
Tourism is also an important source of revenue for Ningbo. Its numerous historical temples and lakes are a hit with tourists from all over the world.
Light industries form a major part of Zhejiang’s industrial sector. In 2015, its value-add accounted for 43 percent of the total value-added industrial output. Products manufactured in Zhejiang include garments and textiles, wooden furniture, household appliances, chemical fibres and leather products.
Since 2000, heavy industries such as electrical equipment and machinery, raw chemical materials and chemical products have developed rapidly. The value-add of these industries accounted for 57 percent of total output in 2015.
Foreign trade and investment
Zhejiang is one of China’s major export bases, accounting for around 12.2 percent of China’s total exports in 2015. Its major export markets include the United States, Japan, ASEAN and Germany, while major import sources include Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, ASEAN and the United States.
In 2015, Zhejiang’s per capita disposal income of urban household reached RMB 43,714, which was an increase of 8.2 percent over 2014. The largest expenditure was on food, drinks and alcohol (28.2 percent), followed by housing (24.1 percent), and transportation and communications (16.6 percent).
Tourism is an important industry in Zhejiang. Its beautiful scenery and rich cultural heritage drew 10.12 million foreign tourists in 2015. Some of the famous tourist spots include West Lake (Xihu), Wuzhen, one of the six famous ancient towns located south of the Yangtze River, Putuo Mountain and Double Dragon Cave. In 2015, the province received 525 million domestic tourists and 10.12 million foreign tourists who spent RMB 672 billion and US$6.8 billion respectively.
Zhejiang University (ZJU), located in Hangzhou, is ranked 177th in the word and 19th in Asia in the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. It has strategic partnerships with 140 overseas institutions from over 30 countries, and has a cohort of 6,000 international students.
ZJU collaborates with the Singapore University of Technology and Design in the areas of education, student exchange and research. The former is responsible for developing the curriculum and teaching five modules: sustainability of ancient Chinese architectural design in the modern world; culture formation and innovative design; business culture and entrepreneurship in China; the role of technology design on growth in China; and the history of urban development in China.
Additionally, ZJU has student exchange programmes with the National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University.
Singapore and Zhejiang
The Singapore-Zhejiang Economic and Trade Council was established on 18 November 2003 to promote economic exchanges and cooperation between Zhejiang and Singapore. In the early years, both sides focused mainly on real estate, manufacturing and encouraging the province’s privately owned enterprises to list on the Singapore Exchange. Since then, the focus has expanded to include modern services such as township planning, education, transport, logistics and tourism. By December 2016, there were 1,157 Singapore projects in Zhejiang. The investments are mainly in real-estate development, auto-parts industry and general equipment manufacturing in cities such as Hangzhou, Ningbo, Zhoushan, Shaoxing and Yiwu. In 2016 alone, 170 companies from the province invested a total of US$1.94 billion in Singapore.