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Guangzhou a vigorous tale of opening-up

By Steve Farr | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-10 07:29
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An aerial view of Canton Tower in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. YANG HE/FOR CHINA DAILY

As an expat who has called Guangzhou home for the past decade, I am in awe of China's economic development not only in Guangzhou and Guangdong province but throughout the country. China's journey to becoming the world's second-largest economy is truly remarkable and a case study from which all countries can learn.

Economists are best qualified to share the data of China's unprecedented economic growth. As important as they are, statistics do not necessarily tell the full story of how this "rising tide has lifted all boats".

This beneficial tide especially includes community-wide improvements in people's well-being and their quality of life. People nationwide have benefited from the creation of more jobs, improvement in living standards and the country's technological advancement. China has also modernized and beautified its cities, created educational opportunities and greatly improved the healthcare and social welfare systems.

As for Guangzhou, its economic growth and the gains it has made as one of China's most prosperous and buoyant cities have not been by chance. Instead, they are a result of the foresight of the city's strong leadership. Strategically managing this growth, Guangzhou's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) is aimed at, among other things, developing the city into a global commercial, industrial and integrated transport hub and enhancing its status as a technological, educational and cultural center.

This plan got a boost last year when Guangzhou hosted the "Understanding China — Greater Bay Area Dialogue" and recognized that achieving "self-reliance in science and technology is the key to pursue the Chinese path to modernization".

Becoming self-reliant and pursuing modernization through economic growth, Guangzhou welcomes foreign investors, businesspeople and enterprises by implementing policies favoring and incentivizing high-tech industry, innovation, and research and development. In order to become a major Asia-Pacific R&D hub, Guangzhou is taking measures to attract more investment to become a top investment destination in China.

Of course, this growth and success is also credited to Guangzhou's strategic location in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the impact of the Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

Residents love the city of Guangzhou thanks to the improvement in people's well-being and quality of life. Not to mention the focused and acknowledged efforts to better protect the local environment.

With close to 50 percent green space in Guangzhou, the city is recognized by the United Nations as an "international garden city". Moreover, the UN recently recognized the Guangzhou city government's commitment to improving people's quality of life by awarding it the Best Practices Award for Improving Human Settlements.

The authorities have also taken measures to preserve, promote and balance Guangzhou's traditional Lingnan culture with a modern city's urban culture. Thanks to this economic growth and enhancement, Guangzhou is more vibrant today than ever before.

"Education is the great equalizer of our time" and our children deserve the very best. Guangzhou's economic development has benefited all educational institutions, faculty members and students. China has about 500,000 schools, and Guangzhou hosts many of the finest among them. The city's more than 80 higher education institutions rank among the best not only in the country but also the world.

The quality of life in Guangzhou also includes good health, overall well-being and a greater sense of social belonging. No wonder Guangzhou has been consistently ranked among the top cities in the "Amazing China — the Most Attractive Chinese Cities in the Eyes of Foreign Talents" competition. We have witnessed China's unprecedented economic growth as we will continue to rise together on the success of this tide.

The author is executive director of the Secretariat Office for the Alliance of Guangzhou International Sister-City Universities. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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