Shenyang is the economic, transportation, commercial, political and cultural center of Liaoning, and the seat of the Provincial Government and the People’s Congress. Often compared with Beijing, Shenyang is not only similar to the national capital because of the Manchu “Forbidden City” lying in the midst of the traditional downtown area, but also similar in regard to its function as a regional center for the entire Northeast of China.
Shenyang has 7.165 million inhabitants, with 4.642 million dwelling in the city proper. According to the United Nations list of urban agglomerations, Shenyang ranks 52nd among the world’s most populated cities, and 10th within China. In the ranking of “Most Competitive Cities of China 2010”, Shenyang ranks 10th in Mainland China and 14th among 294 cities in Greater China (including Hong Kong, Macao, Taipei and Kaohsiung). This index is published annually by the China Academy of Social Science, comparing eight indicators: human resources, enterprises, industries, public sector, living environment, business environment, innovation, and social environment.
The administrative structure of Shenyang Prefecture includes nine city districts, one county-level city and three counties, with a total area of 13,000 square kilometers, in which the city proper takes 3,495 square kilometers.
Situated in the south of Northeast China and the middle part of Liaoning Province, Shenyang embraces stretches of plains with mountains and hills concentrated in the southeast. The Liaohe River, Hunhe River, and Xiushuihe River pass through the city. Shenyang features a semi-humid continental climate with temperatures between -29°C and +36°C, and an average of +8.3°C. Annual precipitation is 500 mm and the annual frost-free period is 183 days. Affected by monsoon, Shenyang sees concentrated rainfall with sharp temperature differences and four distinct seasons.
Being the biggest city of northeast China with a broad range of industries, Shenyang is both the center of the Northeast Asia Economic Zone and the Bohai Economic Rim. Throughout history, the city held a major strategic position for the military.
Shenyang and seven other major cities within a distance of 150 kilometers make up the Shenyang Metropolitan Area. These eight cities are specialized in either basic or processing industries supplementary to each other. They have abundant resources and highly related technologies.
Transportation in Shenyang is well developed and constantly being extended. Shenyang Taoxian International is the biggest airport in northeast China. The railway and highway network matches the highest level in China. In terms of waterways, the seaports of Dalian and Yingkou are less than 400 kilometers from Shenyang, and another seaport in the vicinity, Jinzhou, is under construction.
On April 6th 2010, the China State Council approved the proposal of the Liaoning Provincial Government to develop the Shenyang Economic Area as a reform area. Along with the Shanghai Pudong Lujiazui Area and the Tianjin Binhai New Area, Shenyang is now the 8th national reform pilot area.
The Shenyang Economic Area covers eight cities: Anshan, Fushun, Benxi, Yingkou, Fuxin, Liaoyang, Tieling, and in the center the city of Shenyang. This metropolitan area, known as “Shenyang Metro”, has a population of 23.6 million on 75,000 square kilometers, an urbanization rate of 65 percent, and a density of 314.7 inhabitants per square kilometer. Subject of the new pilot area is modern industrialization, which aims to gradually set up a new development model of modern industry with advanced science and high technology, significant economic impact, low energy consumption, little environmental pollution, and full exertion of local human resources. It is expected that some breakthroughs can be made in important fields and critical points with the reforms.
Chen Haibo, Mayor of Shenyang explained: “With the approval of Shenyang Economic Area as national strategy, Shenyang Metro is looking at an enormous opportunity for development. We will try to enlarge both the economy and the size of the city, first to build Shenyang into an important national equipment manufacturing base, and then into the central metropolis of Northeast Asia.”
Next to equipment manufacturing, Shenyang is also planning to develop various industries in the primary, secondary and tertiary sector, including infrastructure construction, new energy, new materials, electronic information systems, bio-pharmacy, environmental protection and energy conservation, scientific and technological innovation, cultural innovation, modern logistics, and many more.
China’s heavy industry has its roots in Shenyang, core sector is equipment manufacturing. Heavy industry was developed in the early period after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, both in Shanghai and in Shenyang. Shenyang today encompasses 142 industries, and 3,033 industrial enterprises above designated size: these are (1) all state-owned enterprises and (2) private enterprises with annual sales of over 5 million RMB (about 0.7 million USD).
In 2009, the city’s regional GDP has reached 426.85 billion RMB (about 60.98 billion USD). Investment in fixed assets was 351.99 billion RMB (about 50.29 billion USD), foreign direct investment 5.31 billion USD. The disposable income of urban citizen per capita was 18,474 RMB (2,639 USD). The average salary level in Shenyang was 37,937 RMB (5,419 USD).
The city had a total active labor force of 3.26 million, including 790,000 working in the primary sector, 898,000 in the secondary sector and 1,567,000 in the tertiary sector. Within the secondary sector, manufacturing took the lion’s share (309,688) over construction (46,946). In the tertiary sector, employment in education was strong (110,082), along with public administration (86,186), health and social welfare (58,046). State units are still the main employers in Shenyang, since only 578,000 were employed by private companies.
The pace of strategic adjustment of the state-owned economy has accelerated, with foreign and private sectors growing rapidly. Urban development space and industrial layout were expanded and optimized. Automobile and auto parts equipment manufacturing, electronic information, chemical and pharmaceutical industries have taken shape and are now one of the engines of the city’s economic development. The ability of scientific and technological innovation and corporate research and development has kept improving and a number of competitive products and enterprises emerged. The pace of urban infrastructure construction has accelerated and soft environment further improved. Shenyang has seen substantial economic and social development as well as brisk improvement in people’s living standards. As a result of sustainable development policies with attention to the environment, Shenyang has won the titles “National Environmental Protection Model City” and “National Forest City”.
Shenyang has a central role in foreign trade. Both imports and exports increased significantly from 2005 to 2008. Foreign direct investment in Shenyang grew quickly to reach a share of 34 percent of all foreign investment in the province in 2009.
To attract more investors to Shenyang, the city government strengthened investment services in the past years, and received acknowledgments from foreign investors in Shenyang. Almost fifty Global Fortune 500 Enterprises are there already, such as BMW, General Electric, Siemens, HSBC, and BASF.
Shenyang is a convenient city to live in, public facilities are easily accessible. Public transportation includes bus, taxi, and the first line of a subway system, which was put into use in September 2010.
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Shenyang has basic facilities for foreign and domestic investors, such as international schools and hospitals with clinics for foreigners (see above), international chain hotels, shopping malls and supermarkets such as Wal-Mart, Metro, and Carrefour. The city has many Korean and Japanese restaurants, but also a number of Western restaurants and fast food like MacDonalds, KFCs, and Pizza Hut. Fresh Paulaner beer is brewed at the Kempinski Hotel, and even a Swiss Restaurant, “Heidi’s” can be found next to the Consulates area. In order to become a true metropolis in the near future, the city will pay much attention to further upgrade its level of internationalization, and cater to multicultural needs.
With rapid economic growth, Shenyang is facing great development opportunities. The government has decided to build the city into a national equipment manufacturing center, a trade and logistics center and a financial center in Northeast China by 2012. Shenyang wants to become a key growth pole in boosting the economic development of the entire region. Given its favorable location, profound industrial foundation, and the latest national policies, Shenyang is sure to prosper and become one of the most attractive investment destinations in China.