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An introduction to Wuhan Economic & Technological Development Zone (referred to as WHDZ, also known as Hannan)

Updated: 2021-03-09

Located in the southwest of Wuhan city, capital of central China's Hubei province, Wuhan Economic & Technological Development Zone (referred to as WHDZ, also known as Hannan) started construction in May 1991. It was approved by the State Council as a national economic and technological development zone in April 1993, and received approval to establish (Hubei) Wuhan Export Processing Zone in April 2000.

As the jurisdiction area has expanded four times since 1996, the total area of the zone has reached 489.7 square kilometers, bringing seven sub-districts and 459,000 residents (among whom 280,000 are permanent residents) under its umbrella. 

Over decades of development, the zone has forged several industrial clusters, the pillar industries being automobiles and auto parts, electronics and appliances, and biomedicine.

1. Four advantages

Robust economic growth

Economic data in 2020

In 2020, an assessment of key economic indicators in the development zone - such as fixed asset investment, industrial investment, added value of the service industry, actual use of foreign capital, and actual funds in place for investment promotion - saw it rank among the best in the city.

In 2020, the total amount of funds in place for the development zone to complete investment promotion was 83 billion yuan, and the actual use of foreign capital was $2.15 billion. Its actual use of foreign capital index score ranked first in the city.

The development zone successfully held special investment promotion activities in the Greater Bay Area and the Yangtze River Delta throughout the year. It signed 26 projects with a total contract value of nearly 100 billion yuan, as well as a strategic cooperation agreement with Zall Holdings to jointly build the largest modern characteristic port city in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

Economic data in 2019

According to preliminary calculations, in 2019, the regional GDP was 164.35 billion yuan. Of this total, the added value of the primary industry was 1.52 billion yuan, the added value of the secondary industry was 112.84 billion yuan, and the added value of the tertiary industry was 50 billion yuan.

At the end of the year, the permanent population of WHDZ was 449,000, an increase of 18,000 over the previous year. Also by the year's end, the registered population of the district was 313,000, of which 81,000 were rural and 232,000 were non-rural.

A total of 15,500 more people found employment throughout the year. The number of new laborers starting a business was 849, an increase of 13.2 percent over the previous year.

At the end of the year, there were 50,841 market entities, of which 7,246 were newly registered that year. There were 21,560 private enterprises, of which 4,451 were newly registered. There were 29,281 individual industrial and commercial households, of which 2,795 were newly registered.

Across the whole year, the added value of industrial enterprises above a designated size in WHDZ increased by 1.1 percent year-on-year. Among the 457 industrial enterprises above a designated size in the development zone, there were 201 enterprises with a cumulative output value of over 100 million yuan.

2. Four characteristics

The zone is home to a large number of big-name companies.

The zone is home to the headquarters of Dongfeng Motor Corp, which ranks 68th on the list of Fortune 500 Companies, Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen, Dongfeng Honda and Dongfeng Renault, and has also attracted world-renowned auto parts manufacturers, such as Valeo, Getrag and SDS. WHDZ is also home to some key household appliance companies, including Gree, Midea and Haier. By the end of 2017, 54 Fortune 500 Companies have been introduced to the zone. There were eight companies with annual output of over 5 billion yuan in the zone during 2017, accounting for about a quarter of the city’s total, and Dongfeng Honda became the first company in Wuhan whose output value hit over 100 billion yuan. 

The zone is ideally situated.

The zone has 26 of the city’s 166 lakes. Within the zone, the length of the coastline along the Yangtze River is 62.9 kilometers, 50 percent of the length of the coastline on the left bank of the Yangtze River in Wuhan, and the length of shoreline in the port area is 30 percent of the city's total. Rich ecological resources serve as a good basis for creating a livable and business-friendly environment, pushing forward the integrated development of the tourism, culture and sports industries, and developing comprehensive logistics services.

The zone provides various sports and cultural facilities. 

Wuhan Sports Center has a stadium that can hold 60,000 people, an indoor stadium that can hold 13,000, a natatorium that can hold 3,500, badminton courts, a soccer park, golf course, and other leisure and fitness facilities, as well as the Tanghu Theater, an art gallery, a library, and plenty of other cultural venues.

The zone attracts abundant international resources.

More than 1,000 expats, the highest concentration in Wuhan, work and live in the zone. The zone has attracted quality international service organizations, covering areas including education and healthcare, such as the international talent service provider China Intellectech Corp, the international hospital United Family Healthcare, and Wuhan Yangtze International School.

3. Development strategy

In the coming five years, the zone will focus on pushing for new breakthroughs in the transformation of economic development models and industrial restructuring, take the initiative to lead the country in industrial transformation and upgrading, and make great efforts to implement the "1234" development strategy, namely "one vision, two paths, three priorities and four goals". 

"One vision" refers to the ambition to develop a world-famous "motor city".

One of the "two paths" is to adhere to the principle of seeking progress amid steady growth so as to ensure steady, healthy and fast economic growth; the other is to adhere to the strategy of transformation and upgrading as well as innovation-driven development, and accelerate supply-side structural reform to nurture new driving forces for economic growth.

The "three priorities" are upgrading the economy, the city and people's livelihoods, pushing ahead with integrated development of industries and the city, and promoting integrated development of urban and rural areas.

The "four goals" refers to the zone's ambition to turn itself into a national demonstration zone for industrial transformation and development, a zone for mass entrepreneurship and innovation, a pilot zone for open economy and institutional innovation, and a leading zone for building a modern, intl and ecofriendly Wuhan.

4. Five key tasks

In order to achieve the goals set under the "1234" strategy, the zone will concentrate on five major tasks:

1. Establish a system of development indicators for building a world-famous motor city, while finding out the zone's weak points in terms of brand building, auto production, R&D capabilities, supply chains, and services.

2. Adhere to the principle of seeking progress amid steady growth to ensure steady, healthy and fast economic growth.

  Four major measures: 

  (1) Enhance monitoring and control of economic indicators; 

  (2) Accelerate materialization of programs; 

  (3) Serve enterprises wholeheartedly; 

  (4) Develop a new private sector of economy.

3. Adhere to transformation and upgrading, and promote optimization and adjustment of industrial structure.

The zone will promote transformation and upgrading in a variety of areas – from traditional cars to next-generation cars, from traditional manufacturing to smart manufacturing, from a single strong auto industry to an industrial cluster consisting of multiple supporting industries, from factor-driven development to innovation-driven development, from concentrating on industrial development to focusing on building a new city well-integrated with industries.

The zone aims for the new pillar industries of next-generation cars, smart equipment and smart homes to take shape by 2021. It will make great efforts to attract companies from strategic emerging industries including general aviation, new energy and new materials, and improve modern service industries. Through developing towns of smart cars, robots and general aviation, the zone will accelerate the transformation of old towns, plants and villages, the integration of villages, the upgrading of private industrial parks and the construction of innovative street blocks. It will also improve education, medical, and cultural services in accordance with globalization goals, while also increasing capacity. It will build an industrial ecosystem integrating R&D, production and services, and promote integrated development of industries and the city. 

4. Adhere to innovation-driven development, and inject vitality into the regional economy.

The zone will implement four innovative measures: 

(1) Set up an innovation and entrepreneurship development fund, and roll out preferential policies for high-end institutions, college graduates, overseas students and other talented individuals to innovate and start businesses in the zone.

(2) Introduce market-oriented operators and set up platforms to encourage and facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship, including new-type incubators, innovation and entrepreneurship blocks, and tech innovation parks for small and macro companies.

(3) Enhance collaboration with well-known universities and colleges, and organize special alumni events to attract capital as well as professionals to Wuhan. 

(4) Tap expats' potential, find out the needs of skilled foreign workers, improve service systems, and gather quality social service resources for expats.

5. Adhere to integrated civic and industrial development and create a livable and business-friendly environment.

The zone will coordinate the upgrading and development of the economy, city and people's livelihoods, and work to create a beautiful environment –– a livable environment friendly to businesses, an administrative environment conducive to development, and a legal environment emphasizing fairness and justice.