Chengdu: China's Next Financial Hub?

Chengdu: China's Next Financial Hub?

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Famous for being home to the giant panda and mouth-numbingly spicy cuisine, Chengdu has featured on the travel list of domestic and international tourists alike for years. Owing to its geographical location, it’s been strategically important to the Chinese economy throughout history and has played a pivotal role in the international export of Chinese goods such as tea, iron, and silk. Today, Chengdu lies at the start of the modern silk road, connecting China’s hinterland to Europe, and is leading the development of the region. As a core focus of the government ‘Go West’ strategy, an emerging technology hub, and a magnet for foreign investment, Chengdu is set to help catapult the nation into its next phase of growth. Add to that the fact it’s been coined China’s most livable city, and it’s a wonder it’s not replacing Beijing and Shanghai as the internship destination of choice...

 

The ‘Go West’ Strategy

Launched in the early 2000’s by the central government, the Go West strategy aims to develop the western regions of Chongqing, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Tibet, Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi and Qingha. These regions, collectively home to over 400 million people, experienced stagnated growth and were somewhat ‘left behind’ following Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms and the development of eastern China.

Today, government plans to comprehensively develop the western hinterland through upgrading infrastructure and education, encouraging foreign investment, and retaining young talent have given these once forgotten about regions a critical role in launching the nation into the next phase of development. From the launch of the strategy in 2000, until 2016, the Chinese government invested 6.35 trillion yuan in infrastructure and energy projects, helping these regions experience their best period of growth yet.

 

 

What does this mean for Chengdu?

live and work in chinaAs China’s fourth largest city, the capital of western China, and an international trading hub, Chengdu is well placed to lead the regions growth under the Go West strategy. Recognising the city’s potential, the government has made it a key focus and invested huge sums to aid its development, helping the Sichuan capital increase GDP from 200 billion to over 1 trillion RMB in 10 years.

With its sights set on transforming Chengdu into the city of choice for innovators and a science and technology hub, the government is encouraging foreign investment through various incentives like tax deductions and attractive investment policies. Innovative individuals looking to launch start-up companies can receive up to 200,000 RMB per year, free office space, and tax deductions if they do so in Chengdu. This, coupled with the low labour costs, rental prices, and strategic geographic location has helped the city welcome over 60% of the global Fortune 500 companies, along with a host of foreign and local start-ups. Today, Chengdu is home to over 20,000 businesses, representing no less than eight major industries including banking, manufacturing, healthcare, and IT.

Technology internships in Chengdu Despite boasting so many sectors, science, technology and engineering remain Chengdu’s main focus. Tianfu Software Park lies at the heart of this; as the largest software park in the world, it’s been drawing much attention to Chengdu’s new High-tech Development Zone. This area features data centres and research labs made accessible to the 400+ local and foreign enterprises using the office space, yet another draw for global companies looking to set up in China.

Since the launch of the Go West Strategy, Chengdu has capitalised on the modern silk road, which today connects the city by rail to Poland and Germany. This provides an important trade route for the region, opening rural areas of the province to foreign investment, and contributing to the comprehensive upgrade of Sichuan.  

Over the past decade, Chengdu has revealed its ambition is as fiery as its cuisine, and that it’s stopping at nothing to meet its aim of becoming China’s next Silicon Valley. The increasing number of start-up success stories, impressive profile of Fortune 500 companies, and ground-breaking freight links to Europe are already beginning to transform the city once known for hotpot and pandas into a key driver of China’s economic success.

 

What’s life in Chengdu like?

Live in Chengdu chinaWith a history dating back over 2000 years, a multi-ethnic population, and a landscape unrivalled in its beauty, Chengdu is an extremely unique destination. Despite the rapid economic development of recent years and the creation of a modern city centre, the Sichuan capital has managed to hold on to its roots; traditional temples, ancient towns and architecture feature around the city, giving visitors a true sense of the term ‘old meets new’. The well-maintained Wenshu Monastery, Pingle ancient town, and Jinli Street help maintain the city’s rich culture through a period of westernisation.

Chengdu’s climate and location has drawn people from various regions, who combine to form a diverse and multi-ethnic population of 14 million. Despite its large population, Chengdu feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of Beijing and Shanghai. Known for its laid-back locals and slow pace of life, Chengdu offers a big city experience without the frantic feel.

An environmentally conscious city, Chengdu is home to numerous parks and green spaces that allow residents space to relax, unwind and get in touch with nature. The city’s unique surroundings provide a multitude of options for short breaks; surrounded by iconic mountains, stunning valleys and peaceful scenic areas, escaping the city needn’t be difficult.

Chengdu locals are proud of their famously hot regional cuisine popular both across China and the world. Recognised by their intense red colour, mouth-numbing peppery spice and generous servings of chili peppers, Sichuan dishes are by far some of the most popular of China’s eight great cuisines. Spice lovers will be in their element in Chengdu, but fear not; it’s not hard to find restaurants serving dishes from all over the country (or world!).

The unique combination of city, nature, old and new that forms Chengdu offers foreign expats a comfortable alternative to the major metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai. Combine this with abundant professional opportunity, a laid-back way of life, and famously delicious cuisine and it’s easy to see why Chengdu was named the happiest city in China!

 

Interning in Chengdu

As Chengdu strives to become one of China’s core growth hubs by 2020, there is no better time to intern here. Its impressive profile of globally recognised corporations and ambitious local start-ups representing a varied range of sectors opens the city up to students from all backgrounds. Despite its rapid growth, Chengdu remains under the radar of most internship seekers. Anyone willing to broaden their search from the obvious options of Beijing and Shanghai will certainly benefit from less competition for highly sought-after positions and have more chance of getting an impressive name on their resume. Not to mention the cultural insight you’ll gain into China’s most rapidly developing and ambitious new business hub!

Interested in an internship in Chengdu? Check out our internship page for an idea of what’s on offer or contact Hutong School today to get your adventure started!

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