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Tianjin City is the fourth largest city in China after Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. It is located in the north-eastern, Bohai Bay area, and its port is approximately 140 kilometres to the south-east of Beijing city. The population of the city, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China (2012) is 13.1 million people (Jones Lang Lasalle). Tianjin is among fastest growing cities in the world. In fact, it has experienced an economic growth rate higher than China’s national average. This immense growth is attributed to massive investment in infrastructure; increased foreign investments, and a central government that strongly supports the policy of the city.
The city’s total area is 11,920 km2 with twelve districts, three counties, and the sub-provincial city, the Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA). The highest ranking government official in the municipality is the Mayor, Huang Xingguo. The key geographical regions of the city are Central Tianjin, TBNA, Tianjin Economic Technological Development Area (TEDA), the Financial District of Yujiapu, and Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City (SSTEC).
The economy of Tianjin has maintained a double-digit annual growth over the last decade – GDP average above 15%. Data from the Statistics Bureau of Tianjin Municipality (2012) indicate that the GDP of the city in 2012 was ¥1,289 billion, up by 13.8% on 2011. At the end of the same year, the GDP per capita was above US$14,800. The strong economic growth is projected to continue both in the short term and long term. It will be driven by the massive spending in infrastructure and the Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA) – the main economic zone of the city. The TBNA generated more than 50% of the GDP of the city in 2012 and grew at a faster rate than Pudong New Area of Shanghai. Secondary industries are the main drivers of Tianjin city’s economy. It is the largest industrial centre in northern China with electronics, biomedicine and automobile industries. The tertiary industry is also a strong player in the economy. In 2012, it grew by 12.4% and contributed 47% to the total GDP of the city.
There are numerous resources and opportunities for any company that wishes to open new branches in Tianjin city. By the end of 2012, the permanent population of the city was 13 million – a 30% increase from 2005. This translates to about six hundred thousand new residents per year. This reflects a huge labor force available for any new business in the area. The tertiary sector employees have grown by over sixty percent since 2005. The municipality has a coastline that stretches over 150 km, and the biggest port in Northern China. The port continues to spur trade and expansion of the shipping and logistics sectors. The municipality has deposits of oil crude oil and natural gas. Its two oil fields, Bohai and Dagang, are crucial players in the petroleum industry in China. They produce over 15 million tons of crude oil and 800 million cubic meters of natural gas. Changlu Saltem, located along Tianjin’s coastline, is the most famous sea salt producer in China – 10% of total production in China. The municipality is also rich in metal and non-metal minerals such as born, iron, zinc, manganese, limestone, marble, clay soil, tungsten and stromatolite. Tianjin has a geothermal water reserve of more than 100 billion cubic meters. Land for expansion is available in the municipality, especially along the coast. The total area of unused land in the region is about 138,000 hectares. These provide an area for expansion for businesses that seek expansion in Tianjin.
While manufacturing industries are the main economy drivers, tertiary industries such as banking institutions, have expanded significantly over the last few years. The goal is that by the end of this year, the tertiary sector will contribute 50% of the total GDP of the city. To achieve this goal, the municipal government has applied several tactics such as: invest more in the tertiary sector; develop services for manufacturing industries – such as professionals in data processing, advertising and marketing, accounting, banking, consulting and auditing; expand the retail and food and beverage sector; constructing more hotels and exhibition centres, and real expansion of the real estate sector. The goal of the municipal government is to provide the necessary resources such as competent workforce and infrastructure for service industries moving into the city. Service companies that have already set up offices in the city include Industrial Bank of Taiwan; Singapore lifestyle service providers such as Charles and Keith, Bee Cheng Hiang, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, The Ascott Limited, and Capita Malls Asia and Halliburton and Cameron Pace Group.
The key geographical regions in the city are laden with resources and opportunities that can be exploited by new businesses. The TBNA is the major economic driver of Tianjin. It is an economic development zone formed with reforms in the financial, business and market sectors. TBNA has favourable tax incentives and new financial structures that provide a business friendly environment for private equity investors. In 2007, the Binhai New Area Venture Capital Steering Fund was flagged off in Tianjin. A sum of ¥2 billion was invested in the fund to lure domestic and foreign venture capitalists to the Municipality. Part of the money was invested in the construction of scientific research institutions. Another key drive was the formation of the Tianjin Innovative Finance Investment Company Limited (TIFI) with a ¥2 billion capital, to oversee the construction of Yujiapu Financial District. The initiative was a success because, currently, FITI has assets worth ¥20 billion. The role of TIFI is to provide infrastructure, create advantageous policies and financial solutions to investors and developers within the financial district.
One sector that has witnessed tremendous and consistent growth in Tianjin, and offers investment opportunities for foreign investors is the real estate development. By the end of 2011, the fixed assets of real estate investments were valued at ¥1.08 billion, reflecting a 24% increase on 2010 – the second highest in the Republic of China. Opportunities are available for new offices, retail, industrial and residential developments. New department stores and retail shops have transformed the city into a shopping destination. The real estate sector has the potential to accommodate new investors and grow further.
The environment has suffered heavily from the rapid development of Tianjin. Severe air pollution has caused a serious increase of fog in Tianjin region, worsening the air quality. There is also varying degrees of surface and groundwater sources. The quality of water is worsened by the fact that Tianjin lacks a source of fresh water. Another problem that affects water quality is the delay in the construction of sewage plants. Domestic waste has increased with the increase in the population of the city. For instance, in 2009, the domestic waste was 5.1 million tons with a daily production of about 14,000 tons per day yet the treatment capacity of the city was 11,800 tons per day creating a large gap. This was attributed mainly to inefficient reutilization and recycling of waste. Tianjin has put measures to create an eco-friendly environmental. The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City was initiated by a group of companies from Singapore and China with the aim of creating an eco-friendly community for 350,000 people by 2020 (Tianjin Eco-city). The features of the eco-community will be available clean drinking water; effect management of waste with emphasis on recycling; green transport system, and renewable energy sources such as solar power and wind energy.
Tianjin people speak the Tianjin dialect. The majority of the city residents are from the Han ethnic group of the Chinese. The other minor ethnic groups include Hui, Manchu, Korean, Mongols and Zhuang. The residents practise indigenous religions. Other religions practised include Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Roman Catholicism. The residents are friendly and peace loving and live in a beautiful, harmonious environment. Tianjin is a major academic hub in China, with 55 institutions of higher education. Apart from general universities, there are institutions that specialize in science and engineering. Examples of high profile colleges are Tianjin University, Nankai University, and Tianjin Medical University. Also, there are 139 scientific research institutes. There are over 50 high schools in Tianjin, most notably; Tianjin Nankai High School, one of the most prestigious schools in China. Tianjin Foreign Language School, under the municipal government, offers Cambridge International A/AS Levels, Advanced Placement courses, and the IB Diploma Programme. The school has over 2500 students and 200 faculty members.
Tianjin has a well-developed infrastructure and transport system. In 2008, the municipal government launched the building of Tianjin Metro network – with more than ten lines – to serve TBNA and Central Tianjin. This was to reduce the road congestion and heavy traffic – caused by the expanding population – and link the commercial areas within the municipality. The project has made Tianjin Station the primary hub of city’s public transportation. The city has seventeen expressways connecting regional areas of the city. Tianjin International Airport is found in Dongli District about thirteen kilometres from the central business district. The annual passenger capacity in 2008 was ten million. The second phase of the airport expansion was completed in 2014, and the number of annual passengers is expected to double. The railway system is well developed. The Tianjin West Railway Station, opened in 2011, is a high-speed railway that connects Beijing and Shanghai with Tianjin Metro. This connectivity continues to drive the economic growth. Tianjin Port is located on Bohai Bay, a strategic point that makes it an important commercial port in China. It is linked to about 400 ports in 180 countries. It is the fourth largest port in the world regarding throughput. Dongjiang is Tianjin’s Port extension built to contribute to the development of Tianjin Binhai New Area.
Tianjin city offers numerous entertainment options for its residents and visitors. There are several destinations that speak richly of the Chinese culture – from historical relics to the Chinese revolution. There are buildings within the city that display Chinese culture and ancient architecture: Huangyaguan Great Wall (AD 550- AD 577) shows ancient Chinese military engineering; Dule Temple is a millennium old and has grand structures and the Dagu Fort that protected the Qing Dynasty in the 1800s (Travel China Guide). There are parks such as the Water Park with beautiful sceneries with a relaxing atmosphere for visitors. There are different kinds of sports in the city. Tianjin Teda F.C. is a football club that plays in the Chinese Super League and is supported by the residents. Tianjin Lions represents the city in the National Baseball League. The city also has a volleyball team that represents the city in the China Women Volleyball League. Traditional Chinese martial art has been part of the culture of Tianjin for centuries. Chinese cuisines can be enjoyed in Guangdong, Food Street, Hunan and Sichuan. The city has modern malls and traditional stores to fulfil the desires of a shopper. Tianjin has one of the most exciting night-life experiences. It has many night clubs, casinos, movie theatres and musicals.
By 2025, Tianjin City will be among the top 75 global cities. It has a high population that translates to high labour force; favourable government policies, and a stable and consistently growing economic base. The city is rich in resources, both natural, and in the tertiary sector that new investors can exploit. Although the problem of pollution is a challenge to the city, it has put viable measures to tackle the problem. The residents are friendly and tolerant people who do not discriminate against colour or religion. There are numerous schools and institutions of higher learning that accommodate both local and international students. The infrastructure is well developed and still undergoing more expansion and the city offers a wide range of entertainment options. All these properties make Tianjin City an excellent destination for any corporation seeking expansion in China.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Jones Lang Lasalle. China’s City Winners: Tianjin City Profile. Chicago: Jones Lang Lasalle, 2013. Print.
Tianjin Eco-city. Sino-Singapore-Tianjin Eco-City. 2015. http://www.tianjinecocity.gov.sg/. 04 December 2015.
Travel China Guide. Travel China Guide:Tianjin City. 2015. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/tianjin/dining.htm. 04 December 2015.