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Belt and Road cities ranked best performers

Wang Yanlin

China’s Belt and Road Initiative has proved influential with a number of cities in the western areas listed as China’s best performers this year.

Lanzhou, capital of China’s Gansu Province and a crucial link in the initiative, ranked top in the annual Best-Performing Cities China report by the Milken Institute.

It was followed by Shenzhen, while Chengdu in Sichuan Province and Xi’an in Shaanxi Province, both involved in the initiative, took third and fourth spots.

The ranking was based on a set of indicators, with foreign investment a major measurement.

“This year marks the first time that cities from the western region took three of the top five spots in the Milken Institute’s rankings,” said Perry Wong, managing director of research at the institute.

“This highlights the success of China’s central government and policymakers’ focus on leveraging the comparative advantages of regional development in the domestic market to spur growth among less-developed but lower-cost regions.”

Lanzhou is a model of the green development strategy that China embarked upon as part of its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), which focused on elevating the nation’s growth through technological innovation and renewing efforts to coordinate regional development.

Having balanced urban infrastructure modernization with improving ecological sustainability, Lanzhou secured first place, moving up from its fourth position in the sixth edition of the Milken report last year.

“Despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuation of global trade wars, China’s drive for economic innovation across its priority growth cities remains largely unperturbed,” Wong said.

Shanghai did not enter the top 10 due to its huge base effect but it had a good performance in 2020 as usual to serve as a stabilizer for China’s economy, Wong said.

Rankings in the Best-Performing Cities China report

1. Lanzhou, Gansu Province
2. Shenzhen, Guangdong Province
3. Chengdu, Sichuan Province
4. Xi'an, Shaanxi Province
5. Fuzhou, Fujian Province
6. Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
7. Beijing
8. Xiamen, Fujian Province
9. Nanjing, Jiangsu Province
10. Hefei, Anhui Province


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