China’s Southwest – up and coming

What people are saying about Mulberry Fields
“Your blog speaks to the many issues I have experience with when doing business in China.” – a California company

I have read some interesting articles recently that highlight Southwest China’s development, in particular Sichuan Province. Apparently cities like Chongqing and Chengdu nowadays are as much a go-to destination for overseas companies as were cities like Shanghai , Shenzhen, Xiamen twenty or thirty years ago. Whereas in 1985 you might have found just four or five US companies with offices in Chengdu, nowadays there are probably several hundred. And there are about 200 Fortune 500 companies that now have offices in Chengdu.

This is very interesting to me because when I lived in China in the 1990s Sichuan Province was regarded as a backwater and often mentioned as being among China’s most impoverished provinces. And this is the image I have always had of it until recently as it comes up more and more in the news.

One indication of how much importance overseas business leaders now attach to Sichuan Province is the fact that the Fortune Magazine Global Forum was recently held in Chengdu. Chengdu was chosen because it is regarded as China’s marquee city for the 21st Century. I have never been to Chengdu but apparently the city has solid infrastructure – in spite of notorious urban congestion – and its local talent pool is large owing to the fact that there are over 40 universities there. Many of these are technical universities and for this reason Chengdu is now seen – both in China and abroad – as a leader in innovation. Figure in the low cost of labor in Southwest China and cities like Chengdu become desirable strategic locations for big and small companies alike esp in the machinery, automotive, IT and pharmaceutical industries. As you go further south to areas like Yuanan and Guizhou light consumer goods figure in the equation as well.

Southwest China (in short the Provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunan) is definitely an area to watch in coming years. Depending on your product you may do very well in a city like Chongqing, Guiyang, or Kunming all of which may one day rival Chengdu.



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