Last week, China County Economic Research Bureau released the 2010 China County Relative Affluence Level Map which lays out the relative affluence level of each city in China. Who are the better-off cities in China? Names that are seldom heard among foreigners without extensive China experiences; and neither Beijing nor Shanghai is on the list.
A lot of the times, when Western companies picture the consumer market in China, they think of Tier 1 cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Shenzhen. These big cities seem to be where all of China’s consumers live, or at least, all the Chinese consumers that matter live. Well…think again.
While it is true that the big cities are the birth place of China’s rising middle class and have the highest concentration of super rich (as shown in The Wealth Report 2012), there are other questions to consider as well. For example, people living in China’s big cities have always been on the frontline of China’s constant evolving consumerism. After 30 years of opening up, they have become much smarter and more sophisticated consumers, compared with their counterparts in other parts of the country, and are much less likely to simply be swung by nicely-crafted marketing messages. Moreover, the rising living cost in big cities begs the question of how much disposable income people are able to spare when they are squeezed by sky-high housing prices, expensive healthcare and education, as well as hiking gas prices.
At the same time, smaller cities that are rich either in natural resources or entrepreneurs have much more vibe. Stories of weathy Shanxi coal bosses or wives of Wenzhou businessmen may be extremely cases, but the map released by China Country Economic Research Bureau demonstrates exactly the rising of smaller cities in China.
The map classifies all cities in China into 4 categories:
Relative affluence scores are calculated based on several demographic and socioeconomic matrices as shown below.
Among the top 20 most affluent cities in China, Zhejiang Province is the biggest winner with 6 cities on list, closely followed by Guangdong Province with 4 cities on list. Jiangsu Province and Inner Mongolia each has 3 cities on list. Shandong Province scores 2 cities and 1 for Xinjiang Autonomous Region and Shangxi Province.
#1, Kelamayi (Karamay), Xinjiang, population of 450,000, famous for oil, natural gas and precious stones like jade.
#2, Dongguan, Guangdong, population of 6.94 million, hub of manufacturers and most famous for its sex industry.
#3, Suzhou, Jiangsu, a city with over 4000 years of history, famous tourism destination, a regional economic and cultural hub.
#4, Foshan, Guangdong, hometown of Bruce Li.
#5, Wuxi, Jiangsu, regional transportation hub, a historical city famous for fertile farmlands, hub of manufacturers, one of the 15 economic hubs in China.
#6, Zhuhai, Guangdong, one of the 5 Special Economic Zones in China.
#8, Zhoushan, Zhejiang, a city composed of 1390 islands, one fifth of all islands in China, famous for fishing industry and a tourism destination.
#9, Wenzhuo, Zhejiang, population of 9.12 million, hub of manufacturers, famous for rich businessmen and their wives who invest all over China, the city most recently picked by central government for small business funding experiment.
#10, Changzhou, Jiangsu, a city of over 2500 years of history, birth place of modern industries in China, population of 4.59 million, regional transportation hub.
#11, Shaoxing, Zhejiang, a city of over 8000 years of history, referred to as “the city of angels, the city in heaven,” famous tourism destination and economic and cultural hub, biggest city during 6 past dynasties, birth place for tons of famous modern Chinese intellectuals including Zhou Enlai, China’s first Prime Minister.
#12, Baotou, Inner Mongolia, also “city of deers” in Monglian, famous for mineral mines including rare earth.
#13, Jiaxing, Zhejiang, famous harbor city and transportation hub.
#14, Ordos, Inner Mongolia, famous for coal and cashmere.
#15, Weihai, Shandong, famous coastal city.
#16, Taiyuan, Shanxi, famous for coal mines.
#17, Dongying, Shandong, rich in oil and natural gas.
#18, Wuhai, Inner Mongolia, famous for minerals and grapes.
#19, Taizhou, Zhejiang, famous for fishing industry.
#20, Huzhou, Zhejiang, a city of over 2300 years of history, population of 2.89 million.