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Wuhan

Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, and is located at the heart of China. With summer temperatures often topping 40°C, the city is known as one of the country’s four ‘furnaces’, along with Nanjing, Changsha and Chongqing. It has a population of around 8.2m, half of whom live in the urban area. New suburbs are being built that planning officials hope will accommodate a rising population without overstretching the city's infrastructure.

Located at a strategically important point on the country’s rail, road and river networks, the city has long been known as the ‘crossroads of China’. Sitting on the middle reaches of the Yangtze, Wuhan is China’s second largest inland port, after Nanjing. According to the central government’s blueprint for modernising the river, Wuhan, together with Chongqing and Shanghai, will serve as the major regional hubs and therefore the priorities for investment over the next 15 years.

The city is the point where the Beijing-Kowloon, Beijing-Guangzhou and Hankou-Danyang railways converge, together with the Beijing-Zhuhai and Shanghai-Chengdu national expressways and Beijing-Lhasa national highway. Construction of a new Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed rail service that will pass through Wuhan began in 2005. The Wuhan-Guangzhou section became operational in December 2009.

Sitting on the middle reaches of the Yangtze, Wuhan is China’s second largest inland port, after Nanjing. Located at a strategically important point on the country’s rail, road and river networks, the city has long been known as the ‘crossroads of China’. It is home to the Sinotrans Yangtze National Shipping Group, the mainland’s biggest inland river shipping enterprise.

The city has 22 terminals, and their combined throughput in 2009 was 54.09m tons, a year-on-year decrease of 3.27 per cent. Container throughput in the same year increased 20 per cent year-on-year to hit 564,600 TEU.

Wuhan is also arguably China’s third most important academic centre, after Beijing and Shanghai. Its prestigious universities turn out a large pool of skilled workers for local companies.

The confluence of the Yangtze and Han rivers carves Wuhan into three distinct parts – Hankou, Hanyang and Wuchang districts. The city’s commercial centre, its airport and the best hotels are in Hankou, while its two State Council-approved investment zones are in Hanyang and Wuchang. Consequently, many business people need to travel regularly from one district to another; road congestion is an increasing problem.

Wuhan has the sixth largest urban economy in China, and in 2009 its GDP amounted to Rmb450bn. The city’s central location is convenient for companies that have customers in different parts of the country.

Important industries include auto manufacture, iron and steel, ship making, electronics and information technology. It is not clear, however, where the city’s core competitiveness lies and which industrial and commercial sectors have been prioritised for development by the government.

Wuhan Iron & Steel, Dongfeng Motor, FiberHome and Foxconn all have a major presence in Wuhan, while leading foreign companies in the city include Citroën, Honda, Alstom, Federal Mogul, Hyundai, Nokia, Marubeni, BOC and Pilkington Glass.

Like other major cities in China, Wuhan is in a hurry to modernise and there are construction sites everywhere, which contribute to its significant pollution problems.

The pedestrianised Jianghan Road in Hankou is the city’s financial and commercial centre, and contains a variety of shops. Most of the department stores are also to be found in Hankou, on Zhongshan Avenue and Jianfang Avenue.

French influence in the city is palpable. France, along with other European powers, established mercantile concessions in the city in the late 19th Century. The French concession was the last to be returned to Chinese administration, in 1946.

If you want to read more about Wuhan, its leading companies, major investment zones, transport network, port infrastructure and the logistics experience of FIEs in the city, click here to order an e-version of the city profile for £15. Alternatively, for information on all the major Yangtze port cities and much else besides, click here to buy Yangtze Transport: Accessing China's Interior for £85.
     
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