Dongguan, a fascinating and vivid epitome of Mainland China’s reform and opening-up, has undergone a magnificent course of development, creating an exemplary economic miracle in the world. The past fourdecades have seen Dongguan constantly pursuing its dreams and glory, from the initial effort to create the ideal place for investors, therapid industrialisation that made Dongguan a famous manufacturing city, to the most recent endeavour of building an advanced manufacturing centre and a Greater Bay Area city.
Traditionally, Dongguan has been regarded as a “cultural desert” or “world factory” with a forest of chimneys, but the city has come a long way since then. Today, the city is green and liveable with profound culture and a well-developed manufacturing industry; it has been dubbed the international manufacturing city, China’s famous cultural city and a modern eco-city.
Location: A city in south central Guangdong Province on the eastern bank of the Pearl River Estuary, Dongguan is located at the geometric centre of the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area and in the middle section of the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Economic and Technological Innovation Corridor. Area: Dongguan has a total land area of 2,460km2 and a sea area of 97km2. Population: Dongguan houses over 8.3million permanent residents, including 2.11million registered residents. Additionally, there are more than 700,000 compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and over 200,000 overseas Chinese.
In 2018, Dongguan’s GDP totalled RMB827.859bn, an increase of 7.4 per cent over the previous year — higher than that of the national and provincial average in the same period. Of the 21 prefecture-level cities in the province, Dongguan ranked fourth by total GDP and fifth by growth rate. Total imports and exports that year surpassed RMB1.3trn, fifth in the country, and saw a growth of 9.5 per cent year-on-year. Across the city, 102 foreign investment projects of over US$10m each have been imported, with a total contractual foreign capital of RMB14.88bn. The actual amount of foreign capital utilised was RMB8.35bn. The total export value of industrial enterprises above designated size reached RMB738.778bn, up by 10 per cent year-on-year.
Hi-tech manufacturing industry
According to 2018 statistics, Dongguan has over 10,000 industrial enterprises above designated size, the largest number of all cities in the province. Dongguan also has the most market players of all prefecture-level cities in Guangdong, which is over 1.15 million. The proportions of advanced manufacturing and hi-tech manufacturing have increased continuously to reach 52.3 per cent and 38.9 per cent, respectively. By the end of 2018, Dongguan housed 5,798 hi-tech enterprises, with its R&D expenses accounting for 2.55 per cent of the total GDP, higher than the level of moderately developed countries. Dongguan also tops all prefecture-level cities in Guangdong in a number of key indicators of high-quality development, such as the number of patent applications and patent grants.
Pillar industry – electronic information manufacturing
Last year, the added value of industrial enterprises above designated size in the electronic information manufacturing sector, one of the pillar industries of Dongguan, reached RMB137.43bn, a year-on-year increase of 11.5 per cent. The proportion of electronic information manufacturing industry in industrial enterprises above designated size increased to 35.2 per cent in 2018 from 34.6 per cent the year before, contributing to 60.6 per cent of the growth in industrial enterprises above designated size instead of 55.9 per cent in 2017. The rapid growth of the local electronic information manufacturing sector would not have been possible without the driving role of leading enterprises. Last year, the three major mobile phone manufacturers — Huawei, OPPO and Vivo — realised a year-on-year growth of 32 per cent, driving 4.37 percentage points to the growth of the industries above designated size.
A key member of the Guangdong—Hong Kong—Macao Greater Bay Area
The Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area, which has one of the highest degrees of openness and the most dynamic economies in Mainland China, occupies a position of strategic importance in the overall development of the country. From the strategic perspective of implementing the national strategy and in accordance with the development orientation set forth in the Outline of the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area Development Plan, Dongguan has put forward the concept of building itself into a high-quality Bay Area city. By making the quality of economic development an essential part of urban construction, Dongguan boosts co-ordinated development of various industrial parks in the city and accelerates the clustering of high-end innovation resources to promote high-quality economic development.
Songshan Lake National Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone
Songshan Lake, which hosts a number of industrial platforms (such as the University Innovation City, Taiwan Hi-tech Zone, China– Israel International Science and Technology Co-operation Industrial Park and International Robot Industrial Base) and leading enterprises from various industries (such as the headquarters of Huawei Terminal), is increasingly becoming apowerful “engine of innovation” for Dongguan.
In 2018, Songshan Lake ranked second in Dongguan in economic aggregate with an output of up to RMB63bn. The building of the Innovative Entrepreneurship Base for Hong Kong and Macao Youths at the Eco-industrial
Park in Songshan Lake is bound to inject strong vitality into the development of the area. Over the years, Dongguan has attracted investment and business ventures from a great number of Hong Kong businessmen, such as DJ-Innovations and Quotient Kinetic Machine, both based in Songshan Lake. As the exchanges deepen among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, it will be more convenient for young people from the latter areas, especially those engaging in innovation and entrepreneurship, to seek development in Songshan Lake. Their participation will, in turn, help Songshan Lake pool global wisdom.
Binhaiwan New District
The Binhaiwan New District comprises three parts, namely Jiaoyi Bay, Shajiao Peninsula and Weiyuan Island. Located at the geometric centre of the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area, the Binhaiwan New District is adjacent to Hong Kong and Macao and is closely connected with Guangzhou and Shenzhen, especially the national free trade zones such as Qianhai of Shenzhen and Nansha of Guangzhou. It serves as an important window for Dongguan to opento the outside world, a major platform for Dongguan to align with the development of the Greater Bay Area and a core platform of the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Science and Technology Innovation Corridor. Just as well, the Binhaiwan New District is the starting point of Dongguan’s new development path for the coming three decades.
In less than two years after its establishment, the Binhaiwan New District has introduced an array of major industrial projects, such as Tsinghua Unigroup Industrial City for Chips and Cloud Computing, OPPO Intelligent Manufacturing Centre, O-Film Photoelectric Imaging Industry, Genzon Innovation Complex and Ping An Weiyuan Island Smart City. Total investment of these projects amounts to RMB283bn.
The Neutron Science Center of Dongguan
The 53km2 Neutron Science Center of Dongguan is home to Mainland China’s first spallation neutron source — the fourth in the world. The centre is accelerating the construction of the provincial materials laboratory to introduce large science facilities like the synchrotron radiation light source and is designed to become an industrial cluster for new materials, microparticles and biomedicine.
Advanced manufacturing centre of the Greater Bay Area
Manufacturing represents the backbone of development in the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area. Considering its development basis and advantages, Dongguan will work to form an industrial pattern that complements those of Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and Shenzhen and to upgrade its manufacturing to middle- and high-end. The eventual goal is to build Dongguan into the advanced manufacturing centre of the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area.
Dongguan has long had a reputation as the place where “a traffic jam would lead to global product shortage”. It has the largest output of toys, furniture, garments, woollen sweaters as well as electronic products. Today, it produces 300 million to 400 million smartphones annually, accounting for 25 per cent of the global total. The three major local mobile manufacturers, namely Huawei, OPPO and Vivo, have all ranked among the top five in the world.
The city of exhibitions
The strong industrial foundation of Dongguan has made it a major destination for various
kinds of exhibitions. Each year, over 40 large exhibitions are held in the city covering such fields as electronic machinery, textiles and garments, furniture, animation, automobiles, papermaking and printing, hardware and moulding and food and beverages. Total annual attendance, including both buyers and visitors, surpasses two million.
Exhibitions provide the right platform for made-in-Dongguan products to sparkle on the world stage. A host of national and global trade shows have made Dongguan their home, such as the China Processing Trade Products Fair (CPTPF), China International Animation Copyright Fair, and China (Dongguan) International Science & Technology Cooperation Week. Meanwhile, some homegrown exhibitions have also expanded to earn a world reputation in other parts of Mainland China. For example, the International Famous Furniture Fair in Houjie; China International Machinery, Hardware & Mould Industry Exhibition in Chang’an; China International Fashion Fair in Humen; and China International Woolen Knitwear Fair in Dalang.
Business and trade circulation
Dongguan is becoming increasingly popular with business magnates. Hong Leong Group, a Singapore-based business giant, has invested and built a landmark building, the 280m First Sponsor Commercial Center, in Dongguan. Several Wanda commercial plazas have been constructed in Dongguan as well. As brand operators from outside the city quietly establish themselves in the city, Dongguan is seeing fiercer competition in the business and trade sector.
Meanwhile, more and more proprietary brands have appeared in comprehensive business centres, accelerating the transformation of the traditional manufacturing industry and driving it towards the two ends of the smiling curve. By promoting industry with commerce and putting broad circulation at the service of broad production, business and trade circulation will play a greater role in the local economic landscape. This will further drive the transformation of Dongguan from an industrial city to an industrial and commercial city.
The integration of traditional industry with the Internet has fostered new forms of industries for Dongguan. The online-offline interaction has become the new normal of the economy. The electronic business, as represented by cross-border e-commerce, has entered a stage of accelerated growth. Internet tycoons such as JD.com and Alibaba are making big and frequent moves in Dongguan. Giants of the express delivery industry and the logistics industry as a whole, have been setting up their Southern Chinese headquarters in Dongguan one after another. All in all, the tertiary industry represented by the modern service industry has become the most dynamic area of the local economy.
Pursuing innovation-driven development
Between history and modern civilisation, Dongguan today is working to find its own place in the world. Through the vicissitudes of the times, Dongguan’s development path has been clear and distinct: a famous international manufacturing city and a modern ecological city that keeps moving forward. The consistent urban spirit of being inclusive and pragmatic has enabled Dongguan to open up a whole new chapter under the “new normal” of deepening reform and pursuing innovation-driven development. New urbanisation, intelligent manufacturing and green development are becoming new totems of the city. Dongguan sees no limits in its future.
For more information, please contact：
Dongguan Foreign Investment Promotion Center
7/F, 33 Guantai Ave, Dongguan City
Guangdong Province, China