Zhuhai is one of the first four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) established in 1980.

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Zhuhai is one of the first four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) established in 1980. Zhuhai enjoys a favorable geographical location as it lies south of Pearl Rival Delta in Guangdong Province, while bordering Macao and being adjacent to Hong Kong in the east. Zhuhai has an arear of 1.724 , with 5.929  of sea. Of all the cities in Pearl River Delta, Zhuhai is one of the regions with largest marine coverage, the largest number of islands and the longest coast line. The city maintains a leading position in air quality and other environmental indicators in China, so it’s known as one of China’s Most Sustainable City and China’s Most Livable City. A number of titles have been awarded on Zhuhai, including Foreigners’ Most Favorite Tourism City in China, and the first city in China to receive the UN Habitat Award for Best Practices in Improving the Living Environment in 1998.

Over the years, Zhuhai has committed to economic and social development. In 2015, Zhuhai’s GDP grew by 10% to 202.5 billion RMB with the fastest growth-rate in Pearl River Delta. Average per capita GDP is approximately 20,000 USD. The FDI in Zhuhai reached to 2.2 billion USD with an increase of 12.8%. The foreign trade volume reached 48 billion USD. Zhuhai is striving to develop high-end manufacturing industries, aviation, and marine engineering and equipment, rail transit and yacht manufacturing, high-end service sectors such as modern finance, entertainment and tourism, cultural innovations, biomedical and high tech industries, integrated circuit and smart grid, as well as exceptional marine and agricultural economics. From 1996, Zhuhai has successfully hosted 10 sessions of China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition. Zhuhai has become the world’s Printing Consumables City and the largest yacht manufacturing base in China. Gree Electric with a production of 140 billion RMB, is ranked the first in home air-condition sales volume in the world. Moreover, Zhuhai has developed an integrated transportation system that combines airport, seaports, land ports, railways and tunnels. By completing the 2017 Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Subway Bridge, as well as the accelerated construction of the Guangzhou-Foshan-Jiangmen intercity subway and the western extension of the Hong Kong- Zhuhai-Macao, Zhuhai will become the only city in China connected to Hong Kong and Macau by bridge and by road, and a central transportation hub in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao area.


Shantou is an important city in 19th century Chinese history as one of the founding treaties for trade and Western contract. It locates in east coast of Guangdong, midway between Hong Kong and Kaohsiung (Taiwan). Most of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia originate in Shantou-Teochew area. As an open port for more than 100 years since 1861, Shantou has been a shipping hub and distribution center in Southeast China for a long time. The foundation for being special economic area is more mature than many other cities in Guangdong. Due to its ideal foundation in port’s economy, there are millions of foreign immigrants and a special geographical location, Shantou was chosen as one of the four first-tier opening cities in China in 1981. Shantou Special Economic Zone is situated on a piece of sandy land in the eastern suburbs of Shantou city, and originally covered an area of 1.6 square km in 1981 (Shen 2008). The practice of establishing special economic zone in Shantou has been shown to be very successful in early 1980s with an annual GDP of 12.69% (Luo, et al, 2007). Shantou special economic zone expanded its area to 52.6 square km in November 1984 (Luo et al, 2007). Beginning in 1985, Shantou has a fast growth in GDP with 28.65% annual growth rate through 1991 (Luo et al, 2007). The following graph shows the growth of Shantou’s GDP in the period of 1980 -1991 (the unit of y-axis (GDP) is 100 millions RMB). (figure 6 below)

The success of Shantou’s rapid development of Shantou in this 12 year-period can be attributed to three main factors. First, it is a special policy for economic zones. Shantou special economic zones enjoyed duty-free for export goods and tax reduction for import means of production. Many foreign investors have chosen Shantou as their preferred investment destination. Second, the support of labor intensive industry from inland area, Shantou district including Jieyang and Chaozhou which had cheap labor resources; It formed three-dimension economy with cargo trades and transportation in Shantou special economic zones, intensive industry and labor production in Jieyang, and agricultural and tourism in Chaozhou. The vast land in Jieyang and Chaozhou has helped the economy of Shantou and made urban area focus primarily on developing cargo trades and services. Third, it is the concentration of resources. Airport, train station, major ports, municipal government, higher education institutions and businesses were all in Shantou urban district. However, in 1991, Shantou was the most populous special economic zone (SEZ) among the four cities. There were 10 million people in Shantou including Jieyang and Chaozhou. Admittedly, it created a financial burden for the special economic zone. Some policy makers thought it would be a better idea to divide the original Shantou district into three cities, Shantou, Jieyang and Chaozhou, which could prevent resources for Shantou special economic zone from being distributed by Jieyang and Chaozhou. Another reason to separate Shantou district is because Shantou (eight counties and one city) was the largest city among four special economic zones, falling to meet the requirement that each special economic zone was only a county making its link. The separation of Shantou-Teochew area in 1991 not only separated the limited resources, but also intensified the fierce competition. Shantou has become a city heavily dependent on foreign investment and services. Without the support from Jieyang and Chaozhou, it is difficult for Shantou to develop a prominent industry in a short time. In 2010, Shantou’s economy fell down to the twelfth place in Guangdong.

4. Xiamen

Approved as one of the first special economic zones in China, the Xiamen SEZ broke ground in 1981 in the Huli district and was expanded to cover the entire Xiamen Island and Gulangyu Island in 1984. After that the SEZ never looked back. It integrated more land to pilot new investment and trade policies, and was given more options for economic planning to unleash its growth potential. Over the years Xiamen’s urban area has expanded by a factor of seven, and three of its important economic indicators – regional GDP, financial revenue and disposable.

As figure 7 below, Xiamen has grown from 501.87 units to 2535.8 units (100 million RMB) in 10 years with annual increase.

 A slight increase from 2007 to 2009 could be attributed to the global economic crisis, which prompted its growth in the international trade area. From 2009 to 2011, a special growth of 400 units has proven that the economy has recovered. Figure 8 illustrates well that GDP is dominated by industry and industry by an average of 50%, and the first industry (agriculture) occupies no more than 5%, so Xiamen is an absolute industrial city. With service areas developed. The climbing trend of the third sector from 2004 to 2009 may have contributed to the real estate bubble in China, and the 2008 economic crisis has made the second industry clearer. But less than a year, it comes back to a normal level, and it proves there is domestic demand and government support, especially trade policy with Taiwan.

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