Almost the same size as Europe, with twice the population, China should NOT be regarded as a single national market, but as a varied region made up of over 30 different provinces and municipalities.

There are significant divides in China’s regional economies. Coastal provinces in the Chinese eastern seaboard are the most economically advanced, benefiting from historical trade links and better infrastructure. These regions were among the first to respond to the reform and opening-up policy and have enjoyed sustained growth spurred by export and investment. It is also noticeable that the majority (70 per cent) of the Chinese population live in the eastern part of China. By contrast the vast inland regions in China are more domestically oriented and more abundant in natural resources. However, many of these regions are still developing to catch up with the coastal areas.

There are a number of regional economic hubs within China, where several cities interact to create a wider economic area. The most significant are the Bohai Rim region, the Yangtze River Delta region and the Pearl River Delta region.

The question of “where to start” is often asked by companies who are new to the market, and those who seek business expansion. China offers a wide variety of potential locations, and beyond the more familiar established regions and cities it can be difficult for firms to choose.