Special economic zones of China

Special economic zones of China (SEZs) are special economic zones located in mainland China. The government of China gives SEZs special (more free market-oriented) economic policies and flexible governmental measures, compared to the more planned economy of most of China. This allows SEZs to utilize an economic management system that is more attractive for foreign and domestic firms to do business in than the rest of mainland China. In SEZs, "...foreign and domestic trade and investment are conducted without the authorization of the Chinese central government in Beijing."[1] SEZs offer "tax and business incentives to attract foreign investment and technology".[1]

Special Economic Zones
PR China-SAR & SEZ-English
A map showing the locations of the Special Economic Zones
Simplified Chinese经济特区
Traditional Chinese經濟特區


In the late 1970s, and especially at the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in December 1978, the Chinese government initiated its policy of reform and opening up. As a response to the failure of Maoist economy policy that failed to produce economic growth which would allow China to be competitive against not only industrialized nations of the west but also rising regional powers: Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.[2] Officials in Guangdong Province led by Provincial Party Secretary Xi Zhongxun seized the initiative, starting with an investment project in Shekou prepared by Yuan Geng on behalf of the Hong Kong-based China Merchants Steam Navigation Company. This project, initially a ship breaking facility, was approved by Li Xiannian on January 31, 1979. In April 1979, Xi Zhongxun and other Guangdong officials presented in Beijing a proposal to give broader flexibility to the coastal provinces of Guangdong and Fujian to attract foreign investment, with additional exemptions in four cities, namely Shenzhen in the Pearl River Delta region, Zhuhai and Shantou in Guangdong and Xiamen (Amoy) in Fujian Province. For these, Chinese Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping coined the name "special zones"[3][4] with reference to the designation of another border region during the Chinese Civil War. The proposal was approved on July 15 and the four special zones were officially established on August 26, 1979.[5]

In 1984, China further opened 14 coastal cities to overseas investment: Dalian, Qinhuangdao, Tianjin, Yantai, Qingdao, Lianyungang, Nantong, Shanghai, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Zhanjiang and Beihai. Since 1988, mainland China's opening to the outside world has been extended to its border areas, areas along the Yangtze River and inland areas. First, the state decided to turn Hainan Island into mainland China's biggest special economic zone (approved by the 1st session of the 7th NPC in 1988) and to enlarge the other four special economic zones.

Shortly afterwards, the State Council expanded the open coastal areas, extending into an open coastal belt the open economic zones of the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, Xiamen-Zhangzhou-Quanzhou Triangle in south Fujian, the Shandong Peninsula, the Liaodong Peninsula (in Liaoning Province), Hebei Province and Guangxi autonomous region. In June 1990, the Chinese government opened the Pudong New Area in Shanghai to overseas investment, and additional cities along the Yangtze River valley, with Shanghai's Pudong New Area as its "dragon head."

Since 1992, the State Council has opened a number of border cities, and in addition, opened all the capital cities of inland provinces and autonomous regions. In addition, 15 free trade zones, 32 state-level economic and technological development zones, and 53 new and high-tech industrial development zones have been established in large and medium-sized cities. As these open areas adopt different preferential policies, they play the dual roles of "windows" in developing the foreign-oriented economy, generating foreign exchanges through exporting products and importing advanced technologies and of "radiators" in accelerating inland economic development.

Primarily geared to exporting processed goods, the five SEZs are foreign trade-oriented areas which integrate science, industry and innovation with trade. Foreign firms benefit from preferential policies such as lower tax rates, reduced regulations and special managerial systems. In 1999, Shenzhen's new-and high-tech industry reached an output value of high-tech products of 81.98 billion yuan, making up 40.5% of the city's total industrial output value.

Since its founding in 1992, the Shanghai Pudong New Area has made progress in both absorbing foreign capital and accelerating the economic development of the Yangtze River valley. The government has extended special preferential policies to the Pudong New Area that are not currently enjoyed by the special economic zones. For instance, in addition to the preferential policies of reducing or eliminating Customs duties and income tax common to the economic and technological development zones, the state also permits the zone to allow foreign business people to open financial institutions and run tertiary industries. In addition, the state has given Shanghai permission to set up a stock exchange, expand its examination and approval authority over investments and allow foreign-funded banks to engage in RMB business. In 1999, the GDP of the Pudong New Area came to 80 billion yuan, and the total industrial output value, 145 billion yuan.

In May 2010, the PRC designated the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang a SEZ. Kashgar's annual growth rate was 17.4 percent in 2009, and Kashgar's designation has since increased tourism and real estate prices in the city. Kashgar is close to China's border with the independent states of former Soviet Central Asia and the SEZ seeks to capitalize on international trade links between China and those states.[6]

List of SEZs

As part of its economic reforms and policy of opening to the world, between 1980 and 1984 China established special economic zones (SEZs) in Shantou, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai in Guangdong Province and Xiamen in Fujian Province and designated the entire island province of Hainan a special economic zone.

In 1984, China opened 14 other coastal cities to overseas investment (listed north to south): Dalian, Qinhuangdao, Tianjin, Yantai, Qingdao, Lianyungang, Nantong, Shanghai, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Zhanjiang, and Beihai.

Then, beginning in 1985, the central government expanded the coastal area by establishing the following open economic zones (listed north to south): the Liaodong Peninsula, Hebei Province (which surrounds Beijing and Tianjin; see Jingjinji), the Shandong Peninsula, Yangtze River Delta, Xiamen-Zhangzhou-Quanzhou Triangle in southern Fujian Province, the Pearl River Delta, and Guangxi autonomous region.

In 1990, the Chinese government decided to open the Pudong New Area in Shanghai to overseas investment, as well as more cities in the Yang Zi River Valley.

Since 1992, the State Council has opened a number of border cities and all the capital cities of inland provinces and autonomous regions.

In addition, 15 free-trade zones, 32 state-level economic and technological development zones, and 53 new and high-tech industrial development zones have been established in large and medium-sized cities. As a result, a multilevel diversified pattern of opening and integrating coastal areas with river, border, and inland areas has been formed in China.

Type City Province
Special Economic Zone, City Shenzhen Guangdong
Zhuhai Guangdong
Shantou Guangdong
Xiamen Fujian
Kashgar Xinjiang
Special Economic Zone, Province - Hainan
Coastal Development Areas Dalian Liaoning
Qinhuangdao Hebei
Tianjin -
Yantai Shandong
Qingdao Shandong
Lianyungang Jiangsu
Nantong Jiangsu
Shanghai -
Ningbo Zhejiang
Wenzhou Zhejiang
Fuzhou Fujian
Guangzhou Guangdong
Zhanjiang Guangdong
Beihai Guangxi

Economic policies of SEZs

  1. Special tax incentives for foreign investments in the SEZs.
  2. Greater independence from the central government on international trade activities.
  3. Economic characteristics are represented as "4 principles":
    1. Construction primarily relies on attracting and utilizing foreign capital
    2. Primary economic forms are Sino-foreign joint ventures and partnerships as well as wholly foreign-owned enterprises
    3. Products are primarily export-oriented
    4. Economic activities are primarily driven by market forces

SEZs are listed separately in the national planning (including financial planning) and have province-level authority on economic administration. SEZs local congress and government have authority to legislate.

Leong (2012) investigates the role of special economic zones (SEZs) in liberalizing the Chinese and Indian economies and their impact on economic growth. The policy change to a more liberalized economy is identified using SEZ variables as instrumental variables. The results indicate that export and FDI growth have positive and statistically significant effects on economic growth in these countries. The presence of SEZs increases regional growth but increasing the number of SEZs has negligible effect on growth. The key to faster economic growth appears to be a greater pace of liberalization.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Special economic zone (SEZ) - Chinese economics". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  2. ^ Worden, Robert L.; Savada, Andrea M.; Dolan, Ronald E. (1987-07-01). "China: A Country Study". Fort Belvoir, VA. doi:10.21236/ada205396.
  3. ^ Stoltenberg, Clyde D. (1984). "China's Special Economic Zones: Their Development and Prospects". Asian Survey. 24 (6): 637–654. doi:10.2307/2644396. ISSN 0004-4687. JSTOR 2644396.
  4. ^ Holmes, Frank (21 Apr 2017). "China's New Special Economic Zone Evokes Memories Of Shenzhen". Forbes. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  5. ^ Ezra Vogel (2011). Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 398.
  6. ^ Fish, Isaac Stone (2010-09-25). "A New Shenzhen". Newsweek. Retrieved 2011-07-29.


  • Chee Kian Leong, 2007, A Tale of Two Countries: Openness and Growth in China and India [1], Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade (DEGIT) Conference Paper.
  • Chee Kian Leong, (forthcoming), Special economic zones and growth in China and India: an empirical investigation,[2] International Economics and Economic Policy.

External links

Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area

Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area (BDA) (Chinese: 北京经济技术开发区) or Yizhuang Development Area (Chinese: 亦庄开发区) is a state-level economic and technological development zone in Beijing, China. The area is developed by Beijing ETOWN, an economic development and investment initiative of the Beijing municipal government.

BDA is located in Yizhuang, the southeast suburb of Beijing, with the Jingjintang Expressway nearby on its east, with the Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Rail and the Fifth Ring Road in the north and the Sixth Ring Road in the south. The pillar industries in the zone include pharmaceuticals, information technology, mechanic and electronic products and new materials.

Central Plains Economic Zone

Central Plains Economic Zone or Zhongyuan Economic Zone(simplified Chinese: 中原经济区; traditional Chinese: 中原經濟區; pinyin: zhōngyuán Jīngjì Qū) is the proposed economic development zone for the economic region in Henan Province and radiating to the surrounding areas by the Henan government and the Chinese central government.

Fujian Free-Trade Zone

Fujian Free-Trade Zone (Fujian FTZ, colloquially known as 福建自由贸易区/福建自贸区 in Chinese), officially China (Fujian) Pilot Free-Trade Zone (Chinese: 中国(福建)自由贸易试验区; pinyin: Zhōngguó (Fújiàn) Zìyóu Màoyì Shìyànqū) is a free-trade zone in Fujian province, China. The mainland free-trade zone is the nearest to Taiwan. The zone covers an area of 118.04 square kilometres and integrates three existing bonded zones in three areas — Pingtan Subdistrict (43 square kilometres), Fuzhou Subdistrict (31.26 square kilometres) and Xiamen Subdistrict (43.78 square kilometres). Fujian FTZ was founded in Mawei District, Fuzhou on 21 April 2015.

Guangdong Free-Trade Zone

Guangdong Free-Trade Zone (Guangdong FTZ, colloquially known as 广东自由贸易区/广东自贸区 in Chinese), officially China (Guangdong) Pilot Free-Trade Zone (Chinese: 中国(广东)自由贸易试验区; pinyin: Zhōngguó (Guǎngdōng) Zìyóu Màoyì Shìyànqū) is a free-trade zone in Guangdong province, China. It is a free-trade zone near Hong Kong and Macau. The zone covers an area of 116.2 square kilometres and integrates three existing bonded zones in four areas — Nansha New Area in Guangzhou (60 square kilometres), Qianhai and Shekou Industrial Zone (Qianhai Shekou Subdistrict) in Shenzhen (28.2 square kilometres) and Hengqin Subdistrict in Zhuhai (28 square kilometres).

Guangzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone

Guangzhou Economic and Technological Development District (GETDD; Chinese: 广州经济技术开发区; pinyin: Guǎngzhōu jīngjì jìshù kāifāqū; Jyutping: Gwong2zau1 ging1zai3 gei6seot6 hoi1faat3keoi1) is one of the first national economic development zones in China.

List of economic and technological development zones in Beijing

This article is a list of Economic and Technological Development Zones in Beijing.


Lujiazui (simplified Chinese: 陆家嘴; traditional Chinese: 陸家嘴; pinyin: Lùjiāzuǐ, lit. meaning "[The] Lu family's mouth"), formerly known as Lokatse from its pronunciation in Shanghainese, is a locality in Shanghai, a peninsula formed by a bend in the Huangpu River. Since the early 1990s, Lujiazui has been developed specifically as a new financial district of Shanghai. The decision to earmark Lujiazui for this purpose reflects its location: it is located on the east side of the Huangpu River in Pudong, and sits directly across the river from the old financial and business district of the Bund.

Lujiazui is a national-level development zone designated by the government. In 2005, the State Council reaffirmed the positioning of the 31.78 km2 (12.27 sq mi) Lujiazui area as the only finance and trade zone among the 185 state-level development zones in mainland China.

New North Zone

New North Zone (Chinese: 北部新区) is an economic administrative zone in north Chongqing, China. It covers a land area of 130 square kilometres (50 sq mi). It was established in 2002 to include Chongqing Economic and Technological Development Zone, Chongqing High-Tech Industrial Development Zone and Chongqing Export Processing Trade Zone.Chongqing Economic and Technological Development Zone was established in 1993. It covers an area of 9.6 square kilometres. The pillar industries in the zone include information and electronics, bio-pharmaceuticals, automobiles and motorcycles, refined chemicals and new materials, green food, and garments. Many international enterprises set up their factories in the zone.

Pearl River Delta Economic Zone

The Pearl River Delta Economic Zone (simplified Chinese: 珠江三角洲经济区; traditional Chinese: 珠江三角洲經濟區; pinyin: Zhūjiāng Sānjiǎozhōu Jīngjìqū) (once called 粤江平原), is in the Pearl River Delta region, the expansive delta lands of the Pearl River at the South China Sea. It consists of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, and parts of Huizhou and Zhaoqing, has been the most economically dynamic region of the Chinese Mainland since the launch of China's reform programme in 1979. Adjacent Hong Kong and Macau are not part of the economic zone.

The 2008-20 plan, released by China's National Development and Reform Commission, is designed to boost the pan—Pearl River Delta as a "center of advanced manufacturing and modern service industries," and as a "center for international shipping, logistics, trade, conferences and exhibitions and tourism." Goals include the development of two to three new cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the development of 10 new multinational firms, and expansion of road, rail, seaport and airport capacities by 2020. They include construction of the 31-mile (50 km) Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau and the Pearl River Delta. The construction of 1,864 miles (3,000 km) of highways in the region was to be completed by 2012, and rail expansions of 683 miles (1,099 km) by 2012 and 1,367 miles (2,200 km) by 2020.

Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone

Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone (Chinese: 上海外高桥保税区), was the first Free Trade Zone to be established in China. It is situated in the North East of Pudong District, near the end of Metro Line 6. It was incorporated as part of the newly developed China (Shanghai) Pilot Free-Trade Zone on September 29, 2013.

Shenzhen Special Economic Zone

The Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (Chinese: 深圳经济特区), was established in May 1980, and is the first special economic zone in the People's Republic of China. Five other special economic zones have since been established.

Until 2010, Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ) comprised four of the nine districts of Shenzhen City in Guangdong Province, namely Luohu, Futian, Nanshan, and Yantian, with a total area of 493 km². In 2010, it was expanded to include the rest of the city, substantially increasing the geographical size of the SEZ.Many manufacturers oriented towards export markets produce and assemble goods in the zone.

Suzhou Industrial Park

The China–Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (simplified Chinese: 中国—新加坡苏州工业园区; traditional Chinese: 中國—新加坡蘇州工業園區; pinyin: Zhōngguó—Xīnjiāpō Sūzhōu Gōngyè Yuán Qū), or Suzhou Industrial Park for short, abbreviated as SIP, is a county-level administrative area located in Suzhou, Jiangsu with a little Singaporean influence.

Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area

Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (simplified Chinese: 天津经济技术开发区; traditional Chinese: 天津經濟技術開發區; pinyin: tiānjīn jīngjì jìshù kāifā qū), commonly abbreviated as TEDA (simplified Chinese: 泰达; traditional Chinese: 泰達; pinyin: tài dá; literally: 'peace and prosperity') is the main free market zone in Binhai, Tianjin, China. It was formed in late 1984.

Xiamen Special Economic Zone

Xiamen Special Economic Zone (Chinese: 厦门经济特区; pinyin: Xiàmén Jīngjì Tèqū; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Ē-mn̂g Keng-chè Te̍k-khu), established in October 1980, is one of the five special economic zones in the People's Republic of China. Originally comprising a territory of 2.5 km² in Xiamen City, it was expanded to 131 km² in 1984, covering the entire Xiamen Island, which comprises Huli District and Siming District excluding Gulangyu.

Haicang and Xinglin districts were designated "Taiwan Businessmen Investment Zones" on 20 May 1989, and Jimei District was designated in 1992. Foreign investment enjoys the same economic policies as in the special economic zone.


Xihai'an also known as Qingdao West Coast (formerly Huangdao District) is a district of Qingdao, Shandong, China, located southwest and west of the main urban area of the city on the western shore of Jiaozhou Bay. It was identical to Qingdao Economic and Technological Development Zone (QETDZ) (simplified Chinese: 青岛经济技术开发区; traditional Chinese: 青島經濟技術開發區; pinyin: Qīngdǎo Jīngjì Jìshù Kāifāqū) which was launched in 1985 after the zone was merged with Huangdao District and set up the Free Trade Zone in 1992. In December 2012, neighbouring Jiaonan City was merged into Huangdao.The pillar industries engaged in the zone include electronics, household electric appliances, building materials, petrochemicals, machinery and pharmaceuticals. It is connected via the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge.

In mid-2018 the Ministry of Civil Affairs approve the consolidation of Huangdao District Government and Xihai'an New Area Government into a single governing body becoming the third administrative state-level new areas after Pudong and Binhai. The number of living people is 1.71 million in 2014.

Yangpu Economic Development Zone

Yángpǔ Economic Development Zone (simplified Chinese: 洋浦经济开发区; traditional Chinese: 洋浦經濟開發區; pinyin: Yángpǔ Jīngjì Kāifā Qū) is an area of the Yangpu Peninsula, Hainan province, China. This zone, covering 31 km2 (12 sq mi), contains a port, oil refinery, petroleum commercial reserve base, power station, and the town of Yangpu. The area, Hainan's largest economic zone, is located on the northwestern coast of the island, about 140 km (87 mi) west of Haikou, the provincial capital. It is the first development zone approved for lease to foreign investors by the Chinese government.

Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone

Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone or Yangtze River Delta Economic Region (Chinese: 长江三角洲经济区) is an economic region in China that encompasses Shanghai municipality, Jiangsu, Anhui and Zhejiang province.

The region accounts for 20 percent of China's Gross Domestic Product and is responsible for one third of its imports and exports.

Yantai Economic and Technological Development Zone

Yantai Economic and Technological Development Area (YEDA) (烟台经济技术开发区), is an economic development zone established in 1984 in Shandong Province, China. It is near the Yellow Sea coast, and administratively under Yantai Prefecture. It covers 228 km² and has a population of 400,000. Before its creation, most of the area were fishing villages. Now it is an industrial and famous tourist site in Shandong

Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park

The Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park is a technology park in the Pudong district of Shanghai, China. It is operated by Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Development Co., Ltd. The park specializes in research in life sciences, software, semiconductors, and information technology.

As of 2009, there were 110 research and development institutions, 3,600 companies and 100,000 workers located in the technology park. In some circles the park is also known as China's Silicon Valley.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinJīngjì Tèqū
RomanizationJin je tah chi
Yue: Cantonese
JyutpingGing1zai3 Dak6keoi1
Southern Min
Hokkien POJKeng-chè Te̍k-khu
Special Economic Zones
New open development zones
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