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Invest in Western China > About Sichuan Province

About Sichuan Province

Sichuan, situated in western China, serves as a key junction for the Belt and Road Initiative and the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and a gateway for China’s westward and southward opening-up. It is a major province in terms of economy, population, resources, as well as science and education in China. The province ranks fifth nationally regarding both its permanent population of 83.74 million and its vast area of 486,000 square kilometers.

Its strategic position is becoming increasingly prominent. Sichuan boasts profound historical background and has long been considered a strategic rear base for the nation. Its western border is formed by the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, creating a unique strategic barrier; to the east, it integrates with the Yangtze River Economic Belt, connecting to the coastal regions of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai; through Xinjiang and Alataw Pass and Khorgos Port, its north part facilitates trade with the Eurasian continent; the New Western Land-Sea Corridor to the south, provides the shortest route for southwestern China to Southeast Asia. Currently, major national strategies, such as the New Western Land-Sea Corridor, the Western China Development in the New Era, the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the support for Chengdu to become an international comprehensive transportation hub city, are being accelerated in Sichuan, bringing significant opportunities for Sichuan’s development and geopotential elevation; in particular, the construction of the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle, personally planned, deployed, and promoted by General Secretary Xi Jinping, has clearly defined the strategic positioning of “one pole, one source, two centers, and two locations”, which not only sets the direction for Sichuan’s future development but also expands the stage for businesses to invest and thrive in the province.

The economy continues to improve and stabilize. The regional GDP has continuously exceeded two trillion-yuan milestones and reached RMB 5.67 trillion in 2022, with a growth rate of 2.9%, ranking sixth nationwide of the economy. Chengdu, the provincial capital, has become one of the megacities in China and has surpassed RMB 2 trillion in economic output, being the third city in the country to achieve this milestone. All seven regional central cities have economic outputs over RMB 200 billion, with Mianyang and Yibin surpassing RMB 300 billion. The growth rates of value-added industrial output, fixed asset investment, and total retail sales of consumer goods were 3.8%, 8.4%, and -0.1% respectively, which were 0.2, 0.9, and 0.1 percentage points higher than the national average, indicating a steady transition from being a large economic province to a strong economic province. In 2022, Sichuan attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) of USD 3.53 billion, equivalent to RMB 23.03 billion, representing a 5.2% increase. The import and export volume added to RMB 1,007.7 billion, ranking eighth in the country.

Sichuan possesses abundant natural resources. It ranks first in the country in terms of reserves for eight types of minerals, including natural gas, shale gas, and lithium, second for reserves of five types of minerals such as iron ore, and among the top three for reserves of six types of minerals, including graphite. Leveraging the province’s advantages in “water, wind, solar, and gas resources”, significant progress has been made in the construction of the national clean energy demonstration province, with the proportion of clean energy installed capacity climbing to over 85%. The installed hydropower capacity is close to 100 million kilowatts, with every 28 out of 100 kilowatt-hours of hydropower in the country coming from Sichuan. The “West-to-East Power Transmission” Project delivers an annual electricity output of over 150 billion kilowatt-hours, which is 1.3 times the annual power generated by the Three Gorges Hydropower Station. All four large-scale hydropower stations planned for the cascade development downstream of the Jinsha River, including Wudongde and Baihetan, have been completed, with a total installed capacity of 46.46 million kilowatts, twice the capacity of the Three Gorges Hydropower Station. The full operation of Baihetan Hydropower Station marks the establishment of the world’s largest clean energy corridor in the upstream of the Yangtze River, which was praised by General Secretary Xi Jinping in his New Year message. Efforts are being accelerated to build a natural gas (shale gas) production capacity base with an annual output of 100 billion cubic meters. Sichuan produces the largest annual amount of natural gas in the country, with an annual output of over 14 billion cubic meters transported to eastern regions. The construction of the “Three Prefectures and One City” photovoltaic power generation base is also being accelerated, with Liangshan’s “big windmills” generating 11.7 billion kilowatt-hours of green electricity annually. Carbon emission intensity has significantly decreased, making Sichuan one of the provinces with the lowest per capita carbon emissions.

Sichuan boasts a convenient and well-connected transportation hub. It is accelerating the development of a national comprehensive three-dimensional transportation system. Over the course of five years, a total investment of RMB 1.5 trillion will be made in comprehensive transportation. By 2022, the number of major access routes to and from Sichuan increased to 41, the total length of expressways reached 9,179 kilometers, the operational railway mileage reached 6,033 kilometers, the high-speed railway mileage reached 1,390 kilometers, the operational urban rail transit mileage reached 558 kilometers, and the number of civil transport airports increased to 16. The Tianfu International Airport has been completed and put into operation, making Chengdu the third mainland city with two international airports. The Xi'an-Chengdu and Chengdu-Guiyang railways have been completed and opened to traffic, and construction has started on other high-speed railways, such as Chengdu-Dazhou-Wanzhou railway, Chengdu-Chongqing middle line, and Chengdu-Zigong-Yibin railway, which will further connect with the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The construction of the "Century Project" Sichuan-Tibet Railway and the Xining-Chengdu Railway is also speeding up. The navigable mileage of inland waterways is approximately 11,000 kilometers, ranking fourth in the country. There are 18 ports with an annual throughput capacity of nearly 100 million tons, whose economic hinterland covers the entire province and extends to parts of Yunnan, Guizhou, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. Sichuan is fully committed to developing itself as the fourth pole for civil aviation development in China. It has 16 general aviation airports, with Chengdu being the fourth largest aviation hub in China and the third city with two international hub airports. In 2022, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport opened 375 routes, including 131 international and regional ones. The China Railway Express (Chengdu-Chongqing) has accounted for 33% of the national average number of train trips over the past five years, and the New International Land-sea Trade Corridor has operated a total of 1,482 trains. The newly completed Chengdu-Kunming Railway and the operation of the China-Laos Railway have facilitated better access to the Southeast Asian market.

Sichuan is accelerating the pace of industrial upgrading. It has a complete range of industries, with solid foundation and outstanding advantages. The industrial sector covers 41 industry categories and has formed trillion-level industrial clusters in electronic information, food and beverage, making it an important national base for equipment manufacturing, aircraft manufacturing, and power equipment manufacturing. Scales of industries including electronic information, energy and chemical, and food and textile have achieved over RMB 1 trillion. Chengdu software and information services, Chengdu-Deyang high-end energy equipment, advanced electronic information manufacturing in the Chengdu-Chongqing region, in particular, have successfully created national advanced manufacturing clusters, while Chengdu biopharmaceuticals, rail transit equipment, and Zigong energy conservation and environmental protection have established national strategic emerging industrial clusters. Major projects with tens of billions of RMB in investment have been implemented in Sichuan, including CATL Power Battery, BOE, and TW Solar. It also introduced significant foreign investment projects, such as Airbus’s full life-cycle services, and cultivated the power battery industry with a scale of hundreds of billions of RMB. It has planned to build a “China’s Yaku”, initially forming the largest dental industry cluster in China. 19 national manufacturing champions and 338 “small giant” enterprises that are specialized, refined, unique, and innovative have been newly cultivated. The digital economy has been fully empowered where the strong network province, digital Sichuan, and smart society is building, with more extensive use of big data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things.  The National Digital Economy Innovation and Development Pilot Zone has been officially established, and the construction of the Chengdu-Chongqing hub node of the national integrated computing power network has been launched. The Chengdu Supercomputing Center, ranking among the top ten in the world in terms of computing power, has been included in the national sequence. The China · Ya’an Big Data Industry Park has become the country’s first green data center to meet “carbon neutrality”. The added value of the core industries of the digital economy in the province reached RMB 432.4 billion. The potential of consumption upgrade has been fully tapped, with Chengdu becoming the third city in China for first-store economy and the first city for night-time economy, cultivating two world-class urban high-end business districts: Taikoo Li and SKP. With the “Three Hundred Projects” service industry plan in place, nine regional consumer centers have shown great urban vitality. Consumption of bulk commodities such as new energy vehicles grows rapidly. New forms and models of services have emerged, with network transaction volume ranking sixth nationwide.

The momentum for innovation and opening up is strong. Sichuan has taken steps to open up to the outside world, with the number of comprehensive bonded zones increasing from 1 to 6 by 2022, and the import and export value of Chengdu Hi-tech Comprehensive Bonded Zone topping in China for four consecutive years. The number of cross-border e-commerce comprehensive pilot zones, national foreign trade transformation and upgrading bases, national service and trade platforms, and national economic development zones has increased to 8, 20, 9, and 10 respectively. Besides, Sichuan’s foreign direct investment grew by 32%, ranking top in the central and western regions in terms of investment scale ; a total of 377 Fortune 500 companies have set up a presence in Sichuan, ranking number one in the central and western regions; 23 consular agencies have been approved to be established in Sichuan, making Chengdu “the third consulate city” after Shanghai and Guangzhou; 440 pairs of international sister cities and friendly cooperation relationships have been established, ranking first in the central and western regions. Sichuan’s innovation momentum is getting stronger, and it is the only national technology standard innovation base in China. It has 134 general colleges and universities, including Sichuan University and University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, among which there are 53 undergraduate universities and 14 disciplines from 8 universities have been selected into the list of second-round “Double First-Class” higher education institutions and disciplines, ranking 9th by number in China. There are currently 65 and 66 academicians from CAS and CAE, more than 3.8 million professional and technical personnel in various areas, and 10.56 million skilled personnel, and a nationally influential science and technology innovation center being built. With the implementation of the “10 Articles on Science and Innovation”, Sichuan’s R&D investment was in the lead among the central and western regions, and its innovation capacity has risen from 11th to 9th across the country. The first national laboratory in the western region has been established, with 10 national large scientific installations, ranking third in China. 16 national key laboratories and 4 Tianfu laboratories have been built, and the number of national engineering research centers reached 9. The National Sichuan-Tibet Railway Technology Innovation Center has been established and put into operation, and 47 national-level innovation platforms such as the Precision Medicine Industry Innovation Center and Ultra-HD Video Innovation Center have been newly built, reaching 195 in total. 15 major scientific and technological projects have been implemented, with 145 national scientific and technological awards being awarded. State-of-the-art products such as J-20, Hualong One, and 50 MW heavy-duty gas turbines have been launched in Sichuan. 22 national technology transfer institutions have been established, with 1,142 major scientific and technological achievements transformation and innovative product projects implemented. In 2022, the number of high-tech enterprises reached 14,000, seeing a continuously increasing momentum for innovation-driven development.

The business environment is improving. Sichuan benchmarks the international business environment, continues to deepen the reform of “delegating powers, streamlining administration and optimizing government services,” with the proportion of “One-stop” matters increased to 99.2% and “Online handling” matters to 94.9%. The balance of deposits and loans exceeded RMB 11 trillion and RMB 9 trillion respectively, and the total assets of the financial industry are among the top in China, with the deposit-loan ratio increased by 15 percentage points, to 82.6%. In addition, Sichuan Bank is established to create a local financial flagship. The number of domestic and foreign listed companies increased by 74, which is twice that of the previous five years. The construction of the western financial center sees steady progress, and Chengdu has been included in the first batch of pilot cities for digital RMB. A series of policy measures such as Policies on Further Supporting Scientific and Technological Innovation, Opinions on Promoting the Healthy Development of the Private Economy, Implementation Opinions on Further Utilizing Foreign Capital, and Policy Measures Focusing on High-Quality Development to Promote an Overall Improvement in Economic Operation have been introduced, as well as moves including 13 measures to alleviate difficulties for small and medium-sized enterprises, 10 measures to support individual businesses, 10 for electricity, 10 for taxation, and 19 for finance, which support the development of enterprises with real money. In 2022, there were 8.041 million private economic entities in Sichuan, with an increase of 7%, accounting for 97.4% of the total number of business entities. The added value of the private economy was RMB 3.05 trillion, with an increase of 1.2%, accounting for 53.7% of the total economy.

The living environment is comfortable. Sichuan has a high level of medical education such as the nationwide well-known West China Hospital, Sichuan University, with advanced position of the number of medical practitioners per thousand people in China. There are 310 tertiary hospitals, ranking first in the country, and China’s fourth largest modern education system has been built here. Chengdu is the only city in the world with the population of tens of millions that can remotely view snow-capped mountains above 5,000 meters, as well as a place where bustling life coexists with modern prosperity. It has topped the list of “China’s Happiest City” for 14 consecutive years. As the integration of culture and tourism gathers momentum, six new 5A-level tourist attractions and three national-level tourist resorts have been added in the province. Eight national-level all-for-one tourism demonstration zones, six national-level ecological tourism demonstration zones, and 13 national-level night-time cultural tourism consumption gathering areas have been built, all ranking first around the country. Major cultural and sports facilities such as Sichuan Grand Theater, Urban Concert Hall of Chengdu, and Dong’an Lake Sports Park have been built. There are also Piluo Ruins which appalls tourists, the breathtaking Sanxingdui relics, the giant panda, a global fan magnet as a super IP, and the fascinating Jiuzhaigou Valley with its newly restored beautiful scenery.