Guangzhou, located at the north of the Pearl River Delta neighboring Hong Kong and Macao, is the capital city of Guangdong Province. Zhujiang (The Pearl River), the third largest river of China, runs through Guangzhou and is navigable to the South China Sea. Situated in such an excellent geographical region, Guangzhou is called China’s South Gate.
The city, once known to Westerners as Canton, has long been a trade hub. Beginning in the seventh century, it served as the starting point of the maritime Silk Road, and in the 18th and 19th centuries, as the base for British and French commercial enterprises. Later, Guangdong native Sun Yat-sen made the city the center of his revolutionary Nationalist Party. Along with the rest of China, Guangzhou fell to the Communists in 1949. It wasn't until 30 years later, when Deng Xiaoping declared his famous "open door" policy, that the Pearl River Delta industrial boom began, and the region started to reclaim its mercantile roots. Today, this complicated, contradictory place—a provincial capital that's a teeming international marketplace, a relentlessly forward-looking city that's rich in reminders of its colonial past—is one of China's largest cities. Though Guangzhou's manufacturing reputation keeps it off the itineraries of most non business travelers, the city is the heart of modern China. And if the opening of the Ritz-Carlton and Westin luxury hotels next year is any indication, Guangzhou has become, once again, a definitive center of world trade
The Pearl River Delta
The Pearl River Delta covering 9 prefectures of the Guangdong Province, namely Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Foshan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing has become the world's workshop and is a major manufacturing base for products such as electronic products (such as watches and clocks), toys, garments and textiles, plastic products, and a range of other goods. Much of this output is invested by foreign entities and is geared for the export market. The Pearl River Delta Economic Zone accounts for approximately one third of China's trade value.
The Pearl River Delta has been the most economically dynamic region of the People's Republic of China since the launch of China’s reform programme in 1979. From 1980 to 2000, the average real rate of GDP growth in the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone exceeded 16 percent, well above the People’s Republic of China's national figure of under 10 percent.
Although the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone encompasses only 0.4 percent of the land area and only 3.2 percent of the 2000 Census population of mainland China, it accounted for 8.7 percent of GDP, 32.8 percent of total trade, and 29.2 percent of utilized foreign capital in 2001. These figures show the remarkable level of economic development that the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone has achieved and the international orientation of the region’s economy.
The abundance of employment opportunities created a pool of wealthy, middle-income, professional consumers with an annual per capita income that puts them among China's wealthiest. Since the onset of China’s reform program, the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone has been the fastest growing portion of the fastest growing province in the fastest growing large economy in the world.
The eastern side of the PRD (Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou) is the most developed economically. The western areas (Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Jiangmen) are open for development. New transport links between Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai in the PRD are expected to open up new areas for development and facilitate trade within the region. The proposed 29-kilometre Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will be among the longest in the world.
With the recent formation of the Greater PRD Cooperation, the region will create another breakthrough in the years to come.