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Top 9 China Provinces Where Foreign Companies Do Business

by Matt Slater October 25, 2018

Top 9 China Provinces Where Foreign Companies Do Business

Foreign companies are doing business in China for a wide range of different reasons - including importing, exporting, setting up joint ventures, investing, developing new markets, developing new partnerships & more - but in which Chinese provinces are these efforts focused?

Is most business done in China's gateway municipalities of Shanghai and Beijing, or do foreign companies flock to the manufacturing powerhouse provinces of Guangdong and Zhejiang?

Read this article to learn what are, according to our research, the 9 China provinces where foreign companies do business the most.

Top China Provinces Where Foreign Companies Do Business

China is the world's largest exporter

Using official data sources to calculate where in China foreign companies do business would be a thankless task, as there would be so many different factors to consider.

For example - would you look at imports, exports, hotel stays, airport traffic, new companies registered, funds transferred or others? How would these factors be weighted?

Recently we realized that our own China company verification sales data actually gives quite a good representation of where foreign companies are doing business. 

This is because we have been operating for nearly 5 years and have had thousands of clients coming from a broad spectrum of countries, industries and professions.

What our data shows is that the China provinces where foreign companies do business are mainly the ones where the biggest cities are located and which are most easily accessible from overseas.

As the below map illustrates, these top 9 provinces are all located along China's eastern seaboard.

Here are the top 9 China provinces where our sales data indicates that foreign companies do business the most:

1. Guangdong (广东)

  • 22.3% of China Checkup Mainland China Company Verification Report Sales (1)

About Guangdong Province:

  • Population: 109,990,000 (7.8% of National Share) (2)
  • GDP per capita: USD 12,909 (3)
  • Provincial Capital: Guangzhou (广州)
  • Other Main Cities: Shenzhen (深圳), Dongguan (东莞), Foshan (佛山), Huizhou (惠州), Zhongshan (中山)
  • Major Airports: Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN), Shenzhen Bao'an (SZX) (Hong Kong & Macau airports are also good alternatives)

Almost a quarter of the China companies we verify are from Guangdong province and amongst those technology companies from Shenzhen are very common.

Many clients who are working with Guangdong companies find that the business also has registration in Hong Kong. This can be quite a confusing situation which you can learn more about here.

    2. Shanghai Municipality (上海)

    • 14.3% of Sales

    About Shanghai Municipality:

    • Population: 24,200,000 (1.7%)
    • GDP per capita: USD 19,671
    • Main Districts: Huangpu (黄浦), Xuhui (徐汇), Changning (长宁), Jing'an (静安), Putuo (普陀), Hongkou (虹口), Yangpu (杨浦), Pudong (浦东) - see all
    • Major Airports: Shanghai Pudong (PVG), Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA)
    Shanghai is the largest city in China and home to the world's busiest container port and China's largest metro system.

      3. Zhejiang (浙江)

      • 11.4% of Sales

      About Zhejiang Province:

      • Population: 55,900,000 (4.1%)
      • GDP per capita: USD 14,630
      • Provincial Capital: Hangzhou (杭州)
      • Other Main Cities: Ningbo (宁波), Jiaxing (嘉兴), Jinhua (金华), Shaoxing (绍兴), Taizhou (台州), Wenzhou (温州)
      • Major Airports: Hangzhou Xiaoshan (HGH)

      One of China's most developed and prosperous provinces, Zhejiang is a key manufacturing hub. It is also home to the world's largest wholesale market, which is located in Yiwu city.

      4. Beijing Municipality (北京)

      • 9.8% of Sales

      About Beijing Municipality:

      • Population: 21,730,000 (1.5%)
      • GDP per capita: USD 20,356
      • Main Districts: Dongcheng (东城), Xicheng (西城), Chaoyang (朝阳), Fengtai (丰台), Shijingshan (石景山), Haidian (海淀) - see all
      • Major Airports: Beijing Capital (PEK)

      As the national capital and one of China's four 1st Tier Cities, Beijing is home to many multinational headquarters & state-owned enterprises and has the highest concentration of companies in Mainland China.

      Interestingly, Beijing Municipality is the only province in this list which doesn't have a coastline so most of Beijing's imports & exports pass through Binhai port in Tianjin.

      5. Shandong (山东)

      • 8.9% of Sales

      About Shandong Province:

      • Population: 99,470,000 (7.2%)
      • GDP per capita: USD 11,543
      • Provincial Capital: Jinan (济南)
      • Other Main Cities: Qingdao (青岛), Weifang (潍坊), Yantai (烟台)
      • Major Airports: Qingdao Liuting (TAO), Jinan Yaoqiang (TNA)

      China's second most populous province, Shandong has strong agricultural & industrial sectors.

      6. Jiangsu (江苏)

      • 8.0% of Sales

      About Jiangsu Province:

      • Population: 79,990,000 (5.9%)
      • GDP per capita: USD 16,965
      • Provincial Capital: Nanjing (南京)
      • Other Main Cities: Suzhou (苏州), Wuxi (无锡), Changzhou (常州), Nantong (南通), Xuzhou (徐州)
      • Major Airports: Nanjing Lukou (NKG)

      Home to 18 high-tech zones, Jiangsu has a strong economy which is focused around the Yangtze River Delta economic region in the south of the province.

      7. Fujian (福建)

      • 3.8% of Sales

      About Fujian Province:

      • Population: 38,740,000 (2.8%)
      • GDP per capita: USD 13,171
      • Provincial Capital: Fuzhou (福州)
      • Other Main Cities: Quanzhou (泉州), Xiamen (厦门)
      • Major Airports: Xiamen Gaoqi (XMN)

      Located between Guangdong to the south and Zhejiang to the north, Fujian's economy is supported by a strong light industry sector built around the province's coastal cities.

      8. Hebei (河北)

      • 3.7% of Sales

      About Hebei Province:

      • Population: 74,700,000 (5.4%)
      • GDP per capita: USD 7,606
      • Provincial Capital: Shijiazhuang (石家庄)
      • Other Main Cities: Baoding (保定)
      • Major Airports: None

      Hebei may not have a major airport right now, but that is set to change. Beijing Daxing International Airport is currently under construction and is located on Beijing's border with Hebei province. The airport, which is expected to become the world's largest, is scheduled to open in late 2019 - read latest progress here

      Another move which promises to bring development to Hebei is the establishment of the Xiong'an New Area (雄安新区), as it is intended that many "non-core" functions will be moved here from Beijing.

        9. Tianjin Municipality (天津)

        • 3.5% of Sales

        About Tianjin Municipality:

        • Population: 15,620,000 (1.0%)
        • GDP per capita: USD 18,807
        • Main Districts: Heping (和平), Hedong (河东), Hexi (河西), Nankai (南开), Hebei (河北), Hongqiao (红桥), Binhai (滨海) - see all
        • Major Airports: Tianjin Binhai (TSN)
        Tianjin is one of mainland China's 4 municipalities - the others are Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing

          Data Sources

          (1) China Checkup Sales Data (Internal) - view below graph for summary

          China Checkup Mainland China Company Verifications by Province
          Data from Sales of China Checkup mainland China Company Verification reports January 2014 - October 2018

          (2) 2016 Population data - Wikipedia

          (3) 2017 GDP per capita data - Forbes 


          Matt Slater
          Matt Slater


          Hi there, I'm Matt, the founder of China Checkup. Originally from the UK, I am now based in Brisbane, Australia.

          Frustrated by the scarcity of concise, high-quality and timely information about Chinese companies, I setup China Checkup whilst living in Shanghai in 2013.

          My team are proud that China Checkup's company verification reports have now helped thousands of clients from all corners of the world to do business in China more safely.



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