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

Updated: 2017-10-20

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

In 2017, the regional GDP of WHDZ reached 144.3 billion yuan ($22.82 billion), accounting for about 10 percent of Wuhan's GDP; the output value of industrial enterprises above designated size (with annual income of the main business exceeding 20 million yuan) was 340.38 billion yuan, accounting for about a quarter of Wuhan’s total; the added value of industrial enterprises above designated size reached 78.29 billion yuan; investment in fixed assets was 86.9 billion yuan, of which industrial investment was 56.6 billion yuan, accounting for about a quarter of the city’s total; general public budget revenue reached 36.43 billion yuan, accounting for about one seventh of the city's total. 

Six main indicators, namely regional GDP, output value of industrial enterprises above designated size, added value of industrial enterprises above designated size, industrial investment, general public budget revenue and local general public budget revenue, were all the highest in the city.

In 2017, the output value of the automotive industry in the zone reached 258.74 billion yuan, accounting for about three quarters of the city’s total and one third of the province’s total. 

WHDZ is a main growth engine for Wuhan’s and Hubei’s industrial economy.

Complete supporting industries

As an important manufacturing base in Wuhan city and Hubei province, WHDZ gathers top industrial design, R&D, and consulting service resources for industries including automobile and auto parts, with 141,000 workers. In addition, the transportation and logistics network is well-developed, including three river-crossing bridges and four deep-water ports. 

Advantages in technology and innovation

In 2017, the output value of high and new technology industries hit 239.5 billion yuan, accounting for 28.4 percent of the city's total. The zone was home to two national-level enterprise technology centers and 38 corporate technological platforms above the provincial level, and a technological innovation system with enterprises playing dominant roles took shape. The number of patent applications was 1,216 in 2017, while the number of authorized patents was 447, up by 23 percent compared to 2016. Enterprises in the zone filed 80 patent applications to overseas organizations, an increase of 80 percent. A total of 45 patents are held by per 10,000 residents in the zone -- far higher than the average for the city (28.8) and the country (9.8).

Preferential policies for professionals

The zone has introduced 11 academicians, seven professionals under Hubei’s Hundred Talents Program and 53 professionals under Hubei's Yellow Crane Talent Plan. Moreover, there are 300 experts enjoying government allowances, along with 60,000 skilled workers. It has also established the province's first human resources industrial park, with nearly 20 companies providing high-end professionals with services for enterprises in the zone.

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.