The Winning Formula Behind China's Best Performing Cities

Chengdu in Sichuan and Suzhou in Jiangsu come out on top

Pandas, spicy hot pots and hi tech gadgets -- the ingredients behind China's best performing large city.

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, beat Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen to be the nation's top performer according to a new index by the Milken Institute, a Santa Monica, California-based think tank founded by former junk bond king Michael Milken. Chengdu was chosen this week by car booking service Uber to launch a new global product that allows its drivers to pickup commuters as they head into town. It's also well known for its spicy cuisine and a panda reserve that draws tourists from around the world.  

This map from the Milken Institute shows the top ten performers among the biggest cities.

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 The new 'Best-Performing Cities China' index ranks 266 cities that are divided between 34 so-called tier one and tier two cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, and 232 small and medium sized third tier cities. The groups are ranked on economic performance and other factors such as jobs and wages growth, foreign investment and high value add industries.

Chengdu took top 10 positions in seven of the index's nine components, performing strongly in areas like human capital, central government support, high end aerospace, aircraft design and electronics manufacturing.

Most of the best performing cities are in the urban clusters around the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta and Jing-Jin-Tang.

For the third tier cities, Jiangsu Province beat Zhejiang and Guangdong to dominate the top 10. Seven of the top 10 best performing third tier cities are in Jiangsu. Suzhou came in at number one, as seen on this map from the Milken Institute.  

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 “Our data-driven analysis reveals that Chinese cities with the most dynamic economics share some important factors,” said Perry Wong, managing director, research at the Milken Institute and co-author of the report. “Among them are diversified industries, a focus on high-tech, improved transportation networks, continued efforts to develop infrastructure and the talent pool, and the ability to attract foreign investment.”

 The Milken Institute has published a similar index on U.S. cities since 1999. The China index will be updated annually.

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