National-level development zones critical to innovation, financial, high-tech success
Historic, hugely prosperous Suzhou in East China's Jiangsu province has become an economic powerhouse well known around the world for its financial strength.
Located in the center of the Yangtze River Delta and only 25 minutes by high-speed train to neighboring Shanghai, the city's development history dates back to China's Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). Suzhou's unique geography has helped to bolster its business prowess throughout the years.
According to official statistics, the city's GDP hit 1.86 trillion yuan ($270.68 billion) last year, a year-on-year increase of 6.8 percent, ranking first among the cities in Jiangsu province and seventh in China.
"Suzhou has become a hub for trade and business. It is also one of the forefronts of opening-up in China," said Li Yaping, mayor of Suzhou. "The city is one of the most popular destinations for global professionals to turn their dream into reality."
The city has eight national-level development zones, including the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park, Taicang Port National Economic Development Zone and Kunshan Development Zone, two national high-tech districts and two bonded zones, which all make important contributions to the city's economic development.
Among them, the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park, set up in 1994 under the collaboration of Chinese and Singaporean governments, is perhaps the brightest star.
The park has attracted more than 4,400 overseas projects from more than 70 countries and regions, including 156 projects initiated by Fortune Global 500 enterprises and about 30 world-class educational and research institutions operated jointly with foreign universities.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the SIP. One of China's State leaders said the park has played a crucial role in promoting mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Singapore, and should strive to become a first-rate high-tech industrial park to facilitate China's high-quality economic development.
According to official statistics, SIP's economic output reached 257 billion yuan last year, an increase of 7.1 percent year-on-year. The park's cumulative actual utilization of foreign capital has totaled $31.3 billion during the past 25 years.
The park plays a prominent role in the biochemical, artificial intelligence and high-end equipment manufacturing sectors.
Zhou Qinwei, chief operating officer of Innovent, a high-quality innovative medicine developer in the industrial park, said that though China reported strong results in biological development, many enterprises still struggle with small manufacturing capacity and high production costs, which makes it hard for them to meet global industrial standards.
"Considering the geographic advantages and local government's support, Innovent chose to launch operation in the SIP in 2011 with the aim of becoming one of the largest biopharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in China that complies with international standards," Zhou added.
The company has set up strategic partnerships with several companies in the United States to develop, manufacture and sell biopharmaceuticals. Innovent launched its initial public offering in Hong Kong last year.
Apart from the SIP, the Suzhou New District, or SND, is another powerful economic engine in the city.
The district was approved by the State Council as a national high-tech industrial development zone in 1992 and officially named SND in 2002.
In 2017, the district's GDP reached 116 billion yuan and its industrial output value totaled 310.9 billion yuan. The output values of emerging industries and high-tech industries accounted for 57.1 percent and 78.5 percent of the gross industrial output value, respectively.
Alibaba Innovation Center Suzhou New District Base, launched in 2016, provides startups with one-stop services, including cloud resource support, technical guidance, entrepreneurship guidance, training and venture capital activities.
By now, more than 60 startups, covering big data, new media and the internet of things, have gained support from the center and two of them have created output value of more than 10 million in two years.
According to Xue Feng, manager of the center, in addition to providing services, they will also select some promising startups in which to invest.
Suzhou' excellent economic outcomes have attracted global attention and many people are eager to learn more about the city's development and explore stories behind its charm.
A total of 12 overseas journalists from seven countries, including the US, Germany and Singapore, visited Suzhou from April 26 to 28, and were impressed by the city's rapid economic development, as well as its beauty.
During the three-day tour, they visited locations including the SIP, the SND and Zhenze ancient town in Wujiang district of Suzhou.
A Singaporean journalist said that the trip provided a rare opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of how this ancient city manages to become an impressive economic powerhouse.
East China's Suzhou, with development that dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), has a perfect blend of modernity and tradition.Provided To China Daily
(China Daily 05/20/2019 page7)