China’s Economy: The Sum of the Parts

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China's Economy: The Sum of the Parts

China’s Economy: The Sum of the Parts

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Geographically vast countries such as the United States or Canada have incredible diversity within their borders. Every part of the country appears unique, as the distribution of population, culture, geographical features, natural resources, and regional industries vary from place to place.

Think of the differences within the U.S. alone: Silicon Valley is known for its technology and dry weather, while New York City is diverse and busy financial hub. Detroit and the other cities situated in the Great Lake States are all known for manufacturing. Meanwhile, Alaska is a center for natural resources, providing the rest of the country with much of its energy, fishing, and metal resources.

China is not much different in this regard, and today’s infographic shows the growth of individual provinces, municipalities, and other administrative areas within the country over the last 20 years.

Specific Growth Stories in China

There are several growth stories that stand out.

While many contain similar themes, each is very unique in its own right and worth studying further. Here are just some of the rapidly growing places in China that caught our eye:

Inner Mongolia

Inner Mongolia, the region of China that borders the country of Mongolia on both the south and east, is extremely rich in natural resources. Making up 12% of the country’s land mass, the region holds 25% of the world’s coal reserves and also produces rare earths, natural gas, and other commodities. Inner Mongolia has the highest installed wind power capacity in China, and the region is also the country’s largest livestock producer.

Inner Mongolia’s economy averaged just under 20% growth per year in the years from 2005-2010.


Tianjin is the primary industrial, commercial and economic center of North China with 15.2 million people. It’s a hub for high-tech manufacturing and logistics, producing many of the cell phone parts used throughout the world. Manufacturing makes up 47.4% of the municipality’s industrial sector, and Tianjin is one of China’s largest port cities.

Tianjin’s economy continued to accelerate from 2000 (10.8% growth) all the way to 2012 (16.4% growth) before starting to decline. The city is still growing faster than the rest of China, registering 9.3% growth in 2015.


Tibet, known mainly as a center of Buddhism and the home of the currently exiled Dalai Lama, is a rapidly changing place. Despite a rich pastoral and nomadic tradition, Tibet is becoming more urban and diversified in terms of industry.

Tibet’s GDP, which was only 327 million yuan in 1965, has soared to 92.08 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) in 2014. This is a 281-fold increase.


In 2014, heavy industry made up 74% of Chongqing’s gross industrial output. The sprawling megacity and surrounding area has 32 million people, and sits at the end of the mighty Yangtze River. Chongqing produces much of the country’s automobiles, military equipment, steel, and aluminum.

Despite the national economy slowing to a 25-year low of 6.9% growth in 2015, Chongqing racked up 11% growth in the year.

Original graphic by: SCMP


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