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Wuhan: The Next New York?

Economic Observer Online

August 09, 2013
By Cheng Jiulong (程久龙)
Translated by Luo Shuqi
Original article: [Chinese]

On July 4, the Wuhan local government announced its intention to transform its city of 10 million into a world-class cosmopolitan metropolis comparable to London, New York, Paris and Tokyo by 2049.

The news failed to impress many Wuhan residents. On one influential local website, the majority of the 700 comments were negative, saying that the Wuhan government must be having wild day-dreams.

The government’s case is based on two factors, which are constantly presented when trying to attract investment. One is Wuhan’s strategic location in Central China, and the other is its advanced higher education.

However, the central location hasn’t seemed to translate into economic competitiveness so far. As railway and road networks develop, Wuhan’s location on the Yangtze River is becoming less important. Meanwhile, Zhengzhou, another major city in Central China, seems to be better capitalizing on the shipping and logistics industry. The four largest multinational logistics corporations, UPS, FedEx, DHL and TNT, all have their Chinese bases in Zhengzhou.

Wuhan does indeed possess some of the best universities in China. However, it also has a serious “brain drain.” Because of the city’s relatively sloppy economic development, the majority of high-value college graduates choose to work elsewhere.

Additionally, the four world-class metropolises the Wuhan government mentioned all exert far-reaching impact on the world’s financial industry. Wuhan, on the other hand, falls far short of attracting foreign investment compared even to Beijing and Shanghai. Many of the world’s top 500 corporations may put sales centers in Wuhan, but few would ever build their headquarters there.


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