The most recent issue of Foreign Policy Magazine has a story The Global Cities Index, [link no longer exists] setting out the 60 cities “that shape our lives the most.”
Beijing (#12), Shanghai (#20), Guangzhou (#52), Shenzhen (#54) and Chongqing (#59) made the list and in a sidebar, FP provides the following information on these cities:
Population: 11.1 million
Population in 2025: 14.5 million
Claim to Fame: China’s cultural, educational, and political capital. Host of the 2008 Summer Olympics and now home to the world’s largest airport.
Major Industries: Government, tourism, chemicals, electronics, textiles
GDP per capita: $9,237
No. of Days to Start a Business: 37
Roadblocks to Growth: Pollution, dust storms, avoiding a post-Olympic slowdown, overcrowding.
Population: 15 million
Population in 2025: 19.4 million
Claim to Fame: The country’s economic capital
Major Industries: Banking, finance, fashion, electronics, shipbuilding
GDP per capita: $9,584
No. of Days to Start a Business: 35
Roadblocks to Development: Danger of a bursting economic bubble, replenishing energy supplies, a slowdown in the global economy, traffic.
Population: 8.4 million
Population in 2025: 11.8 million
Claim to Fame: The largest and wealthiest city in the south. An important seaport and connection to the rest of the world.
Major Industries: Automobiles, petrochemicals, electronics, telecom, shipbuilding
GDP per capita: $9,970
No. of Days to Start a Business: 28
Roadblocks to Development: Crime, traffic, wide gaps between the rich and the poor, clashes between migrants and locals.
Population: 7.2 million
Population in 2025: 10.2 million
Claim to Fame: Shenzhen has seen the most rapid growth among all China’s cities. At some points in the past 30 years, it grew at 40 percent a year.
Major Industries: IT, software, construction, food processing, medical supplies
GDP per capita: $11,445
No. of Days to Start a Business: Around 30
Roadblocks to Development: Traffic, high rates of HIV/AIDS, labor unrest.
Population: 6.4 million
Population in 2025: 7.3 million (2015)
Claim to Fame: Often called the “Chinese Chicago,” the city is an industrial center and gateway to China’s western regions.
Major Industries: Mining, automobiles, textiles, chemicals, manufacturing
GDP per capita: $5,500
No. of Days to Start a Business: 39
Roadblocks to Development: Air pollution, potential of landslides, drought.
I am always both intrigued and skeptical of statistics on how quickly one can start a business in various places and particularly so when dealing with Chinese cities. My law firm has overseen registering countless Wholly Foreign Owned Entities (WFOEs), Joint Ventures (JVs), and Representative Offices in countless Chinese cities, including all those set forth above and, until now, it never occurred to me to distinguish the time it took to register a China WFOE based on the city. Rather, what our China corporate lawyers have seen is that companies planning to do “routine” business in China get their WFOEs quickly and companies with unusual WFOE plans go more slowly.
What do you think of the “Roadblocks to Development” the FP article sets out for the above China cities? What do you think of the rankings overall?