Shenzhen widens lead as Guangdong's most modern city

Updated: 2015-05-13 07:43

By Xu Jingxi in Guangzhou(China Daily)

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Shenzhen has pulled away from Guangzhou as the most modernized city in South China's Guangdong province, with innovation and the high-tech industry being the biggest driver of its rapid development, according to a recent report by the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences.

The academy evaluated a modernized city from five perspectives: economic development, social development, quality of life, ecological civilization and science and technological education.

It released the results on April 27.

The study found that Shenzhen surpassed Guangzhou in four of the five perspectives and is the most modern overall among the 21 cities in Guangdong province that were evaluated.

Shenzhen surpassed Guangzhou for the first time in the academy's annual study of Guangdong's modernization progress in 2013 and widened the gap last year.

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are widely regarded as China's four first-tier cities, and people usually mention the "big four" in this order.

Guangzhou, the provincial capital, has been an important port for foreign trade for more than 2,000 years, while Shenzhen was still a fishing village neighboring Hong Kong 36 years ago.

However, Shenzhen has preferential development policies as one of five cities specifically designated by the central government, according to Zheng Fenming, director of the Institute of Modernization Strategy at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences.

"But the main reason Shenzhen can overtake Guangzhou is that it places a high premium on innovation and has set the pace for the whole nation in the reform of industrial structure, vigorously developing high-tech and financial industries," Zheng told China Daily.

"Although Guangzhou still has a higher GDP than Shenzhen, it will lose its edge if it doesn't reduce its dependence on foreign trade and increase its proportion of innovative emerging industries," he said.

Export trade volume at the twice-a-year China Import and Export Fair, or Canton Fair, held in Guangzhou, has been falling for the past four sessions.

The high-tech industry in Shenzhen accounted for 56.6 percent of the city's industrial output produced by enterprises with an annual revenue of more than 20 million yuan ($3.2 million) in 2013. The proportion in Guangzhou was less than 12 percent, Zheng said.

Meanwhile, Shenzhen spent 5 percent of its GDP on research and development in 2013, while Guangzhou spent just over 1 percent, he added. There are more than 58 invention patents for every 10,000 people in Shenzhen, six times that of Guangzhou.

Moreover, Shenzhen filed more than 10,000 international patents under the Patent Cooperation Treaty in 2013, more than any other city in China and representing 48 percent of the country's total.