|Two workers exam the auto parts in a plant in Dongguan. (People's Daily Online/Jia Xingpeng)|
Thirty years ago, with the establishment of its very first export processing company, the Chinese city of Dongguan started to earn its reputation as a world factory for the "three-plus-one" trading-mix (custom manufacturing based on samples using materials and parts supplied by an outside source).
In 2008, when the global financial crisis first erupted, Dongguan faced a critical moment for future development. The old way of only relying on labor, land and environment was not going to last in the new economic situation; companies in Dongguan began looking for ways to transform.
Supporting the entity economy, carrying out the “Made in China 2025” project, and developing equipment related to artificial intelligence became the main focuses of Dongguan’s government and enterprises.
“We will weed out or transform most of the low-end enterprises and bring in a great number of innovative organizations and high-end projects,” said the Party chief of Dongguan, Xu Jianhua, who was determined to make Dongguan the leader of intelligence manufacturing.
Total transformation is never easy. In 2012, the economic growth rate for the first quarter was only 1.3 percent, and 2.5 percent for the first six months. Xu encouraged local enterprises to be patient.
In 2015, Dongguan’s persistence finally paid off: the economic aggregate of Dongguan reached 100 billion dollars with a growth rate of 8 percent; advanced manufacturing and high-tech manufacturing industries increased by 47 percent and 36 percent while traditional manufacturing dropped to 18.8 percent; Dongguan’s import and export growth rate ranked first among all Chinese cities. Now there are 986 innovative enterprises and 28 innovative research organizations.
Dongguan is emerging with new vitality. After the Nokia plant — which used be seen as Dongguan’s biggest advantage — moved out, over 80 new manufacturing enterprises filled its spot in just a few months. In 2015, Dongguan’s per capital GDP had reached $12,000, rivaling the standard of many moderately developed countries.