By Wang Wenzheng
Recently, 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in China successively released their economic performance for 2023 and announced their economic development targets for the coming year.
Guangdong became the first province to surpass 13 trillion yuan ($1.83 trillion) in GDP, while Jiangsu maintained its position as the top recipient of actual utilization of foreign investment. Besides, two new cities have joined the “trillion-yuan-GDP club.” These highlights serve as a vivid testament to the upward trend and positive development of the Chinese economy.
All 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions saw their GDP grow in the past year. Xizang autonomous region and Hainan province led the country with GDP growth rates of 9.5 percent and 9.2 percent respectively, followed by Inner Mongolia autonomous region with a growth rate of 7.3 percent.
In addition, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, Gansu province, Jilin province, Chongqing municipality, Shandong province, Sichuan province, Zhejiang province reported GDP growth rates above 6 percent. The majority of Chinese provincial-level regions have experienced GDP growth rates ranging from 4 percent to 6 percent.
Guangdong province’s GDP has surpassed 13 trillion yuan for the first time, with year-on-year growth of 4.8 percent. Its economic output has remained the highest in the country for 35 consecutive years.
The government work report of Guangdong province highlighted the vitality and resilience of the private economy. In the past year, the number of operating entities in the province has exceeded 18 million, including over 10 million individual businesses. The number of enterprises has surpassed 7.8 million, accounting for 1/7 of the national total.
Jiangsu province reported GDP of over 12 trillion yuan, ranking second nationwide. Shandong province, ranking third, crossed the 9-trillion-yuan mark for the first time. Zhejiang province ranked fourth with GDP of over 8 trillion yuan, the first time for it to achieve so.
Apart from the increasing quantity, the GDP statistics also mirrored high-quality development. Shandong province has been consecutively selected as the province with the best business environment in the country. It is home to 15 national-level characteristic industry clusters for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as 299 “little giant firms” – specialized and sophisticated SMEs that produce novel and unique products. The total number of technology SMEs in the province has exceeded 45,000.
Beijing’s per capita GDP, labor productivity, and energy and water consumption per unit of GDP maintained the best level among provincial-level regions in the country. Shanghai reached a record-breaking scale of actual utilization of foreign investment, reaching $24 billion. Its total trading volume in the financial market increased by 15 percent, maintaining its attraction to global investors.
It is reported that there are currently 26 cities in China that have achieved a GDP of over 1 trillion yuan, also known as the “trillion-yuan club.” Among them, Jiangsu province has the highest number of cities in this club, including Suzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi, Nantong, and Changzhou. Guangdong province has four cities in the club, namely Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Foshan, and Dongguan. Additionally, Qingdao, Jinan, and Yantai in Shandong province, Hangzhou and Ningbo in Zhejiang province, as well as Fuzhou and Quanzhou in Fujian province, are also part of this group.
In 2024, various local governments in China have set their goals for the new year in their work reports. Xizang and Hainan, which saw the fastest GDP growth in 2023, have set their growth targets for this year at around 8 percent, the highest among all provincial-level regions. Most other provinces have set their GDP growth targets for 2024 at around 5 percent, which is roughly in line with the national GDP growth rate in 2023.
It is worth noting that the term “new productive forces” appeared for the first time in the work reports of several provincial-level regions. Sichuan province, for example, will focus on the layout and vigorous development of the artificial intelligence industry in order to promote new productive forces. Anhui province has proposed supporting the growth and expansion of the automobile industry and building world-class enterprises with Anhui characteristics.
Shanghai has listed 34 livelihood projects for 2024, including the addition of 4,000 beds for elderly care, 30 community canteens for the elderly, and the renovation of 3,000 beds for cognitive impairment care. Additionally, there will be an increase of 3,000 seats in public kindergartens and 7,000 seats of community childcare places. A total of 70,000 units of affordable rental housing and over 10,000 units of affordable housing will be constructed, along with the installation of 3,000 elevators in existing multi-story residential buildings.
Childcare, elderly care, and housing were buzzwords in Shanghai’s annual targets for the new year.
Ningbo, as a major city in foreign trade and manufacturing, will continue to leverage its advantages in 2024. The city vowed to achieve a growth rate in the value added of strategic emerging industries two percentage points higher than that of the industries above designated size. Additionally, it aims to establish over 30 provincial-level or higher demonstration projects in areas such as intelligent manufacturing and industrial internet. Furthermore, Ningbo plans to regularize the business of international navigation vessel bonded liquefied natural gas refueling.
In addition, boosting domestic demand and promoting consumption are also key tasks highlighted in the government work reports of multiple regions.
Beijing, focusing on the construction of an international consumption center city, has proposed to make great efforts to stimulate potential consumption by promoting the transformation and upgrading of traditional commercial areas and establishing international consumption experience zones.
Jiangsu has put forward plans to enhance the cultivation and promotion of new consumption formats in cultural tourism, aiming to create more trendy products and renew consumption scenarios.
In 2024, various regions in China are accelerating their pace.