Shenzhen usurps Hong Kong as China’s most competitive city

Shenzhen has traded spots with Hong Kong as the most competitive and innovative city in China, according to the latest survey.

Released last week in Beijing, the CASS Blue Book survey ranked some 294 cities on how favourable they are for business activities.

For a decade, Hong Kong has reigned supreme at the top, but the market-friendly policies implemented by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s are blossoming on the mainland, with Shenzhen reaping the rewards.

Shenzhen has reinvented itself in more ways than one, growing from a once-small fishing village on the Pearl River Delta into a manufacturing powerhouse. Next came its meteoric rise to become the industrial and technology capital of China. 

Gone are most of the sprawling factories that produce clothes and toys by the tonne, replaced by assembly lines churning out motherboards and computer screens. There’s no doubt Shenzhen has become a Mecca for entrepreneurs, tech researchers and even venture capitalists.

According to data from Bloomberg, the GDP per capita recorded last year in the Nanshan district of Shenzhen was HKD385,475, higher than the equivalents in Germany, Japan, and, by a country mile, Hong Kong (USD33,534 or HKD259,850 according to Trading Economics).

Established brands such as Huawei, Tencent and Ping An are all based in Shenzhen, and more companies, mostly technology, are entering the fray. Makers of the highly popular OnePlus handsets also call the city home, as does drone maker DJI.

Frank Wang, a graduate of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the founder of DJI, said he decided to set up shop on the mainland after failing to get funding and government support in Hong Kong. The rest, you can say, is history.

DJI ranked 22nd on Fast Company’s 2014 list of the world’s most innovative companies, beating out Netflix, Samsung, Soundcloud, Kickstarter, and many more.

The Hong Kong government’s attitude on embracing innovation has, insofar, been laissez-faire, according to Forbes.

In 2013, Hong Kong spent less than one percent of its GDP to fund research and development for technology and innovation. Over the same time period, Shenzhen put more than four percent of its GDP towards the same purposes.

Go figure.

Photo: Azwari Nugraha via Flickr

Got a tip? Send it to us at

Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on