Chengdu at a Glance

Population: Sub-provincial city 16,330,000 (2019) – Urban 11,940,500 (2018)
GDP (2019): ¥ 1.701 trillion (US$ 245.1 billion)

Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province. It was established officially in 311 BC and has a history that stretches back over 3000 years. It is the fifth most populous city in China. The climate of the city is monsoon influenced and subtropical, with mild winters but moderate summers. It is much cooler than the climate of its neighbours in Chongqing. Annual precipitation is around 997mm and with an average of 1,073 sunshine hours per year.

The city is served by Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, one of the busiest airports in China. It is one of only four airports in China with 2 commercial runways. Foreign Trade Volume in 2014 was USD 55.85 billion, up 10.4% on 2013. UNESCO designated it as a Creative City in 2010. Forbes, Fortune and the World Bank listed Chengdu as one of “The Next Decade’s Fastest Growing Cities Globally”, “The World’s Best Emerging Business Cities” and the “Benchmark City for Investment Environment in Inland China” respectively. Chengdu is considered being one of the most livable cities in China.

In the first four months of 2015, Chengdu received USD 1.2 billion in contracted foreign investment, an increase of 150% on the same period in 2014. 136 new major projects have been signed for during Jan-May 2015. In 2014, 60 Sichuan-based companies invested in overseas projects. The total investment was USD 1.35 billion with an increase of 178% on 2013.

The Chengdu plain is famous for being fertile, and has its own irrigation system dating back thousands of years. It is one of the major agricultural production bases in China. Grain, including rice and wheat, is the major product, but the area also produces commercial cash crops include rapeseed, citrus fruits, peaches, sugar cane and sweet potatoes, as well as pork and raw silk. The area surrounding the city is also rich in mineral resources, with deposits of coal, petroleum, natural gas, salt and iron ore. Sichuan province also has more than 132 mineral resources including vanadium, titanium, lithium and cobalt.

The city’s service sector already accounts for 50% of the economy and is predicted to grow to 60% within the next 10 years. Tourism is growing particularly quickly, as Chengdu was named a CED (World Centre of Excellence for Destinations) city in 2010. Chengdu has also been selected by CNN travel as one of the 17 places to visit. It has enjoyed visits from top ranking officials such as David Cameron, Angela Merkel and Michelle Obama in the last five years.

Chengdu plays a key role in having a greatest number of universities and research institutes in the Southwest of China. It has 49 universities including Sichuan University and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics. There are multiple different schools for children of foreign nationals in Chengdu.

Key Industries

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food Processing
  • Automotive, Aerospace, Metallurgy
  • Finance
  • ICT
  • Retail
  • Petrochemical
  • Tourism


In 2019, the core area of Tianfu New Area reported a GDP of 47.6 billion yuan with a year-on-year growth of 10,3%. The area aims to reconstruct modern international urban area suitable for not only a residence but also industry and commerce. Some of the major projects of Tianfu New Area are The New Century Global Centre, Chengdu Tianfu International Airport and Contemporary Arts Centre.

AAXIS Commerce Delivery Centre in Chengdu has signed a short-term contract with a multinational company from the UK with a presence in Shanghai, and a multi-year project contract for a large project with another multinational company in Suzhou. After the success of these projects, AAXIS Commerce is planning to increase their staff by 20% this year, and move to a larger in Tianfu Software Park in order to increase their capacity.

Chengdu is a key part of the Chinese Government’s “One Belt, One Road” plan aimed at resurrecting traditional trade routes over water and land. It forms one of the transportation hubs on the land route between China and Europe. Xi Jinping announced a fund of USD 40 billion in November 2014, which is designated for investment in businesses contributing to the initiative.

Chengdu is also one of the targets of “Go West”, a strategy aimed at raising the economic strength and living standards of Western China to match those of the Eastern coastal cities. One of the projects is a joint Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Zone – this will link Chengdu to Chongqing, one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

Chengdu housing market has not suffered the same fall in prices as other areas in China, and remains competitive. The average house price is a third of house prices in Shanghai and Beijing, and is predicted to rise sustainably in 2015 Chengdu’s retail sector is expected to expand in 2015, with Shopping Plazas such as Taikooli, Joy City, Shinkong Mitsukoshi opening new premises. Chengdu’s purchasing power is unrivaled in Western China and accounts for 50% of the total in Sichuan Province.

From 2012, the city has been aiming to improve its presence in events and exhibitions and plays now one of the leading roles in the MICE industry nationwide. In 2012, there were 456 events, 76 international meetings and 154 exhibitions, of which 38 were international. The city holds over 190,000m2 of exhibition space. The Western China International Exposition Town has an exhibition space of 500,000m2 and a conference space of 250,000m2. The Western China International Fair (WCIF) and the China Food & Drink Fair (CFDF) both take place in Chengdu every year and are aimed at attracting investment and trade. Chengdu will host the FISU Summer World University Games in August 2021, an international sports event.

There are more than 7,000 tourist accommodation facilities in the city of Chengdu including 33 five-star hotels and 112 four-star hotels. 72 international hospitality brands including Starwood, Intercontinental, Accor and Waldorf Astoria run hotels in Chengdu.

There are plans to boost energy provision through non-fossil fuels (e.g. solar, nuclear, wind) to 30% of the city’s supply.

High-tech industries such as integrated circuit design and software development should continue to be attracted by good local R&D and educational facilities. The strengthening of rail and air logistics will strengthen Chengdu’s position as the vanguard of Southwest China. However, most growth will be in the service industries and ICT rather than Chengdu’s more traditional sectors of aerospace and pharmaceuticals. In April 2017, Chengdu Pilot Free Trade Zone was officially established with almost 120 square kilometers of working area.

In 2017, Chengdu City Master Plan was approved proposing Chengdu’s “Three step” strategic goals in the new era. By 2020, a well-off society will be built in an all-round way with high-standards, and a National Central City that fully embodies the new development philosophy will be mostly accomplished. From 2020 to 2035, the construction of a beautiful and livable park city will be accelerated and the building of a pan-European and pan-Asian international gateway and hub city with important influence will be completed. By the middle of this century, Chengdu will be build into a sustainable world city with the comprehensive construction of a new modern “Land of Abundance”.

“The thriving business hub conveniently located in the heart of Southwest China: Chengdu offers an abundance of opportunities to foreign businesses looking to invest into Western China, and with recent Chinese government announcements, these only look set to grow further

Chengdu State Council Incentives

  • Provide financial support to companies in obtaining international standards certifications and engage in brand promotion overseas
  • Promote international service outsourcing business
  • Afford and arrange tax reductions and exemptions
  • Provide financial support to service outsourcing enterprises in talent training
  • Provide political and financial support for the global and domestic service outsourcing top 100 enterprises in their rent, taxes, staff training, and land management issues
  • Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone (CDHT) has issued a number of preferential policies


  • Mount Qingcheng, Famous mountain, a key centre of Taoism 
  • Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, home to 30% of the worlds giant pandas 
  • Anshun Bridge
  • Sichuan Opera (performed at Shu Feng Ya Yun)
  • The world famous Chengdu Tea Houses
  • Wuhou Shrine

Chengdu is also famous as the centre of Sichuan cuisine. In 2010, UNESCO named it a City of Gastronomy, making it the only city in Asia with this label. Much of the food contains Sichuan peppers, and three of its most famous dishes – Mapo Tofu, Hotpot and Dan Dan Mien – are all very spicy.

Top five reasons to do business in Chengdu

  • Chengdu is China’s western centre of logistics, commerce, finance, science, and technology. It is also an important hub for transportation, communication, manufacturing, and agriculture. In 2019, Chengdu was the best performing Chinese city in nine growth indicators, such as jobs, wages, GRP per capita, and foreign direct investment growth between 2012 and 2017.

  • The total volume of imports and exports of the Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone (CHDT) ranked third in the country and first in central and western China. The Chengdu Tianfu Software Park, based in CHDT, is Asia’s largest specialized business IT park and one of China’s 10 national software industry bases.

  • The city has a long history of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Over 6,000 medical equipment and pharmaceutical companies are registered here. Chengdu is one of China’s pharmaceutical hubs.

  • There are over 300 Global Fortune 500 companies with business in Chengdu. Prominent foreign investors include: Intel, BMW, HP, Sony, Nokia, Canon, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Alcatel, Toyota and Unilever. The 12th Fortune Global Forum was held in Chengdu in June 2013 and the first in central and western China.

  • Chengdu has an excellent telecommunications infrastructure. As of 2013, there were 3.75 million fixed line users, 21.36 million mobile phone users, and 2.68 million people with broadband access.