The provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and the city of Shanghai are bordered by the East China Sea to the east in the central-eastern part of the country. All of them are located in a subtropical monsoon marine climate zone which makes the summers very humid and hot. It rains frequently in this region, even 11-14 days per month. Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang are also successively the most developed provinces in terms of GDP per capita in China, giving way only to the administrative area of the capital city, Beijing. Also the quality of life measured by HDI is among the highest in the entire Middle Kingdom.
Shanghai is the largest city of China and one of the largest cities in the world, as well as one of the Chinese subdivision units with over 27 million inhabitants in 2020 making it the most densely populated province in the country (3816 inhabitants per square kilometer). It is also one of the busiest port cities in the world. Until the eighteenth-nineteenth century Shanghai was mainly engaged in agriculture. In the nineteenth and twentieth century industry started to play an increasingly significant role as well as more and more banks or corporations opened their headquarters there. The most dynamic development began in the 1990s. Today, it is not only the financial, business and commercial center of the Middle Kingdom with the most developed stock exchange in Mainland China, serving securities, futures, currency, gold, insurance, negotiable instruments and diamond markets, but also the most international city in the country. The dynamic development since the 1990s has been attracting more and more people to the city (population growth in 2020 amounted to ca. 3%). Shanghai is also said to be China’s transportation center due to its geographical location (access to water bodies); moreover, the city is served by two airports and a dense network of railroad connections (access to High-Speed Railways). Nowadays, Shanghai’s economy is based mainly on the tertiary sector (about 70% of the generated GDP), with financial and insurance services being the main focus. Heavy industry has been moved to other regions. Promoting the strategic role of Shanghai as a global center of economic governance is driven by organization of major international events (e.g. World Expo 2010 under the motto “Better City – Better Life”), building international agreements and organizations based on Shanghai’s headquarters (New Development Bank) or the name of the city (Shanghai Cooperation Organization). Already in 2015 there were about 1478 financial institutions in Shanghai, of which about 30% were foreign institutions.
Jiangsu is a province located north of Shanghai. As of 2019, it had 80.7 million inhabitants. The capital (administrative center) and also the historical center is Nanjing. The largest city with a population of over 10 million is Suzhou. The province is the most developed subdivision unit in China in terms of GDP per capita (not including the municipalities of Beijing and Shanghai, which, by the way, was part of Jiangsu Province until 1927). In 2019, the GDP per capita amounted to 123,067 yuan, equivalent to around $19,042 USD. Among the 23 provinces (again not including the municipalities), it is also the most densely populated area with about 803 people per km2. The standard of living in Jiangsu is very high, measured by the HDI amounts to 0.810, which corresponds to the level of Malaysia or Costa Rica. This region has also the largest number of foreign investments in the country. The agricultural sector accounts for about 4.5% of the generated GDP, industry for about 44.5% and services for the remaining 51%. Jiangsu is one of the major industrial centers – the main industries in the region are engineering, electronics, petrochemicals, textiles, food, and construction, which is dominated by manufacturing. The province has also rich energy resources, mainly coal. In addition, access to the Yellow Sea provides great potential for oil and gas mining. Despite its highly developed industry and commerce, the province is called ‘the land of fish and rice’ indicating the role of the water environment for the region. Water covers an area of almost 20% of the province, the surface is rather low above the sea level and flat. Rice, wheat, cotton, fruit, silk and tea are grown here, and fish is an important part of the local cuisine. Direct access to water and the province’s location not only provides additional transportation benefits, but also attracts tourists with its landscapes. Tourist attractions include the numerous narrow canals and bridges crossing the city of Suzhou and the town of Zhouzhuang, reminiscent of European Venice.
Zhejiang (浙江) is a province located south of Shanghai. 2019 It was inhabited by a population of 58.5 million people and it is one of the smallest provinces by area. The capital (administrative center) and the most populated city in the region is Hangzhou. 70% of the province’s land area is mountainous, which together with the warm and humid monsoon climate create very good conditions for tea cultivation. The province is known for its long tradition of tea production – in this region green varieties of tea are mainly grown, such as Longjing green tea, Jingshan, Wanghai and many others. It is worth mentioning that China is the largest producer of tea in the world (about 2.276 million tons of tea in 2015, with about 166,000 tons coming from Zhejiang). The province has rich resources of various minerals. Its reserves of coal, pyrophyllite, and limestone used for both cement and construction rank first in the country. Fluorspar resources rank second, and resources of silica, perlite, granite, zeolite, silver, zinc, vanadium and cadmium are among the top ten in the country. Zhejiang has been developing rapidly for many years. Between 2010 and 2019 the province’s generated GDP increased by even 125% (from 2772 billion in 2010 to 6235 billion yuan in 2019)! Such dynamic growth is driven by high development of trade (both wholesale and retail) real estate market, transportation, hotel or catering services. The province’s economy is mainly based on the tertiary sector, although industry still has a large share (about 42%). Industrial production is concentrated in the electromechanical, textile, chemical, food and building materials industries.
Author: Ania Serwach