best performing cities china 2017 Page 01

Best-Performing Cities China 2017: The Nation's Most Successful Economies

Sep 11, 2017

By Perry Wong, Michael Lin and Joe Lee

The Milken Institute's Best-Performing Cities China index shines a light on China's recent developments and urbanization trends and measures cities' economic achievements.

When it comes to factors such as job growth, wages, employment, investment, and economic growth, how do China's booming cities compare? With the help of these indicators, our report aims to:

  • Monitor and evaluate the economic performance of Chinese cities
  • Provide insights for Chinese cities on how to improve
  • Create a venue to explore markets and business opportunities in China


Our index presents two separate rankings—one for first - and second-tier cities and another for third-tier cities—to reflect the fact that cities fall into different developmental stages and urban hierarchies. First- and second-tier cities are normally the forerunners of urbanization, larger in size, and receive more support from the central government.

 1. Chengdu, Sichuan (四川省, 成都市) 1. Nantong, Jiangsu (江苏省, 南通市)
 2. Chongqing (重庆市) 2. Bengbu, Anhui (安徽省, 蚌埠市)
 3. Guiyang, Guizhou (贵州省, 贵阳市) 3. Foshan, Guangdong (广东省, 佛山市)
 4. Shenzhen, Guangdong (广东省, 深圳市) 4. Ji’an, Jiangxi (江西省, 吉安市)
 5. Nanjing, Jiangsu (江苏省, 南京市) 5. Zunyi, Guizhou (贵州省, 遵义市)
 6. Shanghai (上海市) 6. Taizhou, Jiangsu (江苏省, 泰州市)
 7. Zhengzhou, Henan (河南省, 郑州市) 7. Luohe, Henan (河南省, 漯河市)
 8. Kunming, Yunnan (云南省, 昆明市) 8. Yangzhou, Jiangsu (江苏省, 扬州市)
 9. Nanchang, Jiangxi (江西省, 南昌市) 9. Yichang, Hubei (湖北省, 宜昌市)
 10. Qingdao, Shandong (山东省, 青岛市) 10. Suzhou, Jiangsu (江苏省, 苏州市)
Full Rankings Full Rankings


  • Ranked fifth last year and first the year before, Chengdu regains first place due to its development of diverse and high value-added industries and encouragement of innovation and entrepreneurship. Its many universities, colleges, and research institutions, as well as its rich talent pool further helped the city remain prosperous.
  • Chongqing grabs second place after improving to eighth from ninth in the years before. Chongqing is uniquely located at the intersection of the Yangtze River Economic Belt - home to fifth place Nanjing and sixth seed Shanghai - and the "Silk Road Economic Belt."
  • Nantong tops the 2017 BPC China rankings among third-tier cities. This is mainly due to its diverse industries, abundant talent pool, and well-connected transportation network. Being part of the Yangtze River Economic Belt also bolsters its competitive advantage, along with Taizhou (No. 6), Yangzhou (No. 8), Yichang (No. 9), and Suzhou (No. 10).
  • Three newcomers made it into the first- and second-tier top 10: Zhengzhou (No. 7), Kunming (No. 8), and Qingdao (No. 10.). These cities are all regional logistics hubs that have been further strengthened by China's new "One Belt, One Road" initiative, emphasizing their pivotal role in logistics and trade.
  • A large portion of cities in the top 10 in both lists are located within the Yangtze River Economic Belt, Pearl River Delta Economic Zone, and the Diamond Economic Zone. These cities have relatively stable rankings over the past three years, while cities that are not part of any regional clusters tend to fluctuate more in our rankings.

About the Best-Performing Cities Series

For nearly twenty years, the Institute's Best-Performing Cities index has objectively measured which U.S. metropolitan areas are promoting economic vitality based on job creation and retention, the quality of new jobs, and other criteria. The goal is to help businesses, investors, industry associations, development agencies and government officials, academics, and public-policy groups monitor and evaluate the performance of metros where they work and do business relative to the rest of the country. The Best-Performing Cities China index is anchored in this heritage of expertise.