Located along the Yangtze River and right at the centre of China, Hubei is one of China’s fastest developing provinces. Its economic figures are impressive, with its GDP growing 7.8% – 1.3 percentage points more than China’s national average of 6.5% - to reach RMB 3,936.7 billion in 2018. Its trade figures have also increased substantially by 12.9% year-on-year to total approximately US$65.2 billion in 2018.
Hubei is at the heart of the Central Government’s “Rise of Central China1 Strategy” (中部崛起计划), first brought up in 2006 during the 11th 5-Year plan, and reiterated in 2016 during the 13th 5-Year plan. The strategy aims to spur domestic consumption, boost regional growth and encourage the co-development of Central China cities with coastal areas.
Hubei’s provincial capital city, Wuhan, is a modern metropolis and part of the cluster of mega cities situated along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. Wuhan is amongst China’s New First Tier cities (新一线城市), and is expected to continue spearheading the development of Central China. It has a land area of 8,494 sq km and comprises three major townships - Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang – making it one of the largest provincial capitals in China.
Wuhan has historically been a city of strategic and economic importance, especially in contemporary Chinese history. It was home to China’s first iron and steel factory back in the Qing dynasty. Today, Wuhan Iron and Steel Corp (WISCO)2 is one of the top iron and steel producers of the world. Wuhan is also widely recognised as the birthplace of the 1911 Revolution, a milestone event that transformed the country into modern China as we know it today.
The city is also known as a key railway, logistics and transportation hub. With a strong industrial base and port facilities that stretch back to the 1900s, Wuhan is an important inland transshipment port along the middle stretches of the Yangtze River. Its unique position at the crossroads of China’s railways, highways and waterway makes it the centrepiece of the central government’s “Rise of Central China Strategy”.
Beyond its geographical advantages, Wuhan is also brimming with human capital. The city is home to over a million tertiary students. It is this large talent pool that will provide the foundation for Wuhan’s next stage of development. The city has identified priority sectors of focus - modern services, high-tech industries such as precision engineering, advanced manufacturing, optoelectronics3, biomedical, new energy and green solutions.
The Optics Valley of China (“中国光谷”) is testament to Wuhan’s ambitions, with the high-tech zone housing numerous advanced manufacturing facilities, including those dedicated to the research & development (R&D) and production of optical fibre cables and other optoelectronic components. With Wuhan gearing up to be Central China's R&D hub, Singapore companies are exploring opportunities in areas such as research collaboration and intellectual property creation. McKinsey predicts Wuhan’s GDP to rank 11th globally by 20254.
Singapore projects in Hubei include:
1 The 6 provinces included in the Rise of Central China strategy includes Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Henan, Anhui and Shanxi.
2 WISCO has been merged with Baoshan Iron and Steel Group (Baosteel) in September 2016 to form BaoWu Iron and Steel Group (Baowu). Baowu is currently the biggest steel maker in China.
3 Optoelectronics is the study and application of electronic devices that source, detect and control light, including LEDs, integrated optical circuits and solar cells.
4 Global cities of the future, Mckinsey (2012)
5 Hubei Bureau of Statistics