Huizhou looks to upgrade its industrial mix as it eyes key role in Greater Bay Area

14-Jul-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Huizhou, the second closest mainland Chinese city to Hong Kong, has set its sights on new industries including car and equipment manufacturing and clean energy to rejuvenate an economy that plummeted 8.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2020.

The city’s two existing pillar industries electronics and petrochemicals have fallen victim to weaker external demand as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the global economy.

Huizhou, or Wai Jau in Cantonese, is classified as one of the “outer ring” cities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), alongside Zhaoqing and Jiangmen. These are the less developed cities towards the periphery of the zone, with lower land and labour costs, where heavier industries are beginning to congregate.

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It should benefit from substantial infrastructure investment, as spillovers from the “inner ring” the likes of Shenzhen and Macau, with advanced manufacturing and services and better transport links lead to the establishment of more industrial bases to provide things like paper, metals and power to the entire bay area.

Here, the South China Morning Post tries to gauge the role of Huizhou, and its 5 million residents, as they pursue new growth opportunities in the future economic hub.

What is the history of Huizhou?

Situated in the north of the Pearl River Delta, Huizhou was historically known as Lingnan and the gateway to eastern Guangdong.

The city benefited culturally from the visits of several celebrated figures of ancient China. During the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127AD), the renowned poet Su Shi was a low-level government official in Huizhou. During his three-year stint, he built two bridges on the West Lake, which were named Su Di by later generations to commemorate Su’s achievements.

From around that time, Huizhou became a prosperous region where trade flourished for the next thousand years or so.

The late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai conducted revolutionary work in Huizhou before 1949.

The city boasts more than 900 scenic spots, and is something of a tourist draw.

How’s Huizhou’s economy doing?

Huizhou’s economy has been growing fast over the past three decades, driven by the pillar industries of electronics and petrochemicals. But it hit a blip last year as the US-China trade war led to plant closures and declines in exports.

The city’s gross domestic product plunged 8.7 per cent in the first quarter of this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

TCL, a leading Chinese television manufacturer, is headquartered in Huizhou, and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics had produced MP3 players and smartphones at its Huizhou plant, which opened in the 1990s. The factory was closed last year as the company relocated production capacity to Vietnam and India.

How important is Huizhou’s geographic location?

Huizhou borders the provincial capital of Guangzhou to the west, and Shenzhen and Dongguan to the southwest. It is a major transport hub of eastern Guangdong, 130 kilometres from Hong Kong.

Huizhou has a 281.4km-long coastline, and has a major port with shipping links to other ports domestically and overseas.

The Beijing-Kowloon Railway runs through the city.

What are the major development zones in Huizhou?

Huizhou Dayawan Economic and Technological Development Zone (DBETDZ) was given the go-ahead in 2006 by the State Council to expand from an area of 10 square kilometres to 23.6 square kilometres. Companies in the fields of car making, chemical production and processing, and electronics are targeted by the zone.

The Huizhou Export Processing Zone was approved by the Guangdong provincial government as a subzone to the DBETDZ. It covers an area of 3 sq km and welcomes firms dealing with electronics, auto parts, textiles and chemicals.

Huizhou Zhongkai High-tech Industrial Development Zone is connected to Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dongguan by expressways. It encourages investment in new materials, telecommunication and other hi-tech industries.

What plans is Huizhou making to spur its economic growth?

Huizhou plans to speed up its development in sectors like logistics, tourism, finance and other emerging industries.

It is also looking to move its traditional industries like home appliances, clothing and footwear up the value chain.


Category: Hong Kong

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