Changsha to Take Lead in China's Local Stimulus Measures

Changsha, capital of China’s south-central Hunan province, has announced plans for 829.2 billion yuan ($130 billion) in investment projects. That is by far the largest amount of investments announced by any prefecture or even province in China as part of the nation’s economic stimulus effort.

That’s a staggering amount of investment for a city whose total GDP was $87 billion in 2011. It’s also notable because Changsha is already one of China’s fastest-growing, most prosperous and industrially competitive cities.

Its population of 7 million enjoys a per-capita GDP of $12,313 — about three times the average of China as a whole and third among China’s provincial capitals and nearly eight times the $1,623 per-capital GDP in 2002. Changsha posted a blazing 14.5% annual growth rate last year, far higher than the 9% rate for the nation.

While the city has not offered specifics of the dozens of investment pojects it is contemplating, much of it is likely to go toward construction projects designed to build up the infrastructure to realize its ambition of becoming a technology hub. It is already ranked fourth in global competitiveness behind San Jose, Hong Kong and the Chinese city of Suzhou, according to the China Academy of Social Sciences.

In addition to being the birthplace of Mao Zedong and the source of some of China’s spiciest cuisine, Changsha has more recently become known for producing the nation’s most popular TV shows, including the chart-topping Supergirl talent competition reality series broadcast on Hunan Satellite TV. It is also one of China’s most culturally homogenous cities, with the Han majority making up 99.22% of its population.

China is making a second major stimulus push after economic growth slowed to a three-year low of 7.6% in the second quarter. Among them are 66 billion yuan ($10.5 billion) for affordable housing and 26.5 billion yuan ($4.4 bil.) to subsidize sales of energy-efficient appliances. The central bank has also begun loosening bank lending and reserve requirements as inflation has cooled considerably since last year.

Other cities have announced plans to subsidize purchase of low-cost housing and efforts to build more and faster roads and railways, push alternative energy, stimulate sales of clean cars, build more hospitals and improve water treatment facilities as part of the stimulus effort.