China’s High-tech Development Zones Account for 12.3% of National GDP, 50% of R&D Spending

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China’s national high-tech industrial development zones account for over a tenth of the country’s national GDP according to the latest official data.

At a press conference held on 23 July China’s deputy tech minister Xu Nanping (徐南平) said that in 2019 high-tech development zones accounted for 12.3% of national GDP, as well as 11.8% of national tax revenues.

R&D expenditures of enterprises in China’s high-tech industrial zones totalled 825.9 billion yuan (approx. USD117.92 billion), accounting for 50% of all enterprise R&D expenditures in China.

High-tech development zone enterprises also accounted for 37.5% of all patents granted in China, with 388 patents per 10,000 enterprise staff, 11.3 times the national average.

As of 2019 there were 619,000 enterprises registered in high-tech industrial zones, for YoY growth of 32%, while the zones accounted for 75.7% of companies listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange STAR Market Board.

“National high-tech development zones have surged forth a group of leading, innovative enterprises with global influence, such as Huawei, Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu, DJI and iFlytek,” said Xu Nanping.

Xu further points out that the zones play a key role in increasing the “risk-resistance capability” of the Chinese economy, given that both the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and this year’s COVID-19 pandemic they have managed to retain growth amidst adversity.

In the first quarter of the year China’s high-tech development zones saw YoY growth in enterprise employees of 2.1%, to reach 26.56 million in total. New employees totalled 508,000, for YoY growth of 6.7%.

The State Council also recently released its “Several Opinions for Expediting the High-Quality Growth of National High-tech Industrial Development Zones” (国务院关于促进国家高新技术产业开发区高质量发展的若干意见), flagging further focus on areas including high-end innovation resources, attractive first-class innovation talent, and commercialisation of core technologies.

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