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Haikou Tops the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities China Index

Haikou comes in first place in the list of first- and second-tier cities after a massive 19-spot jump, ahead of Guangzhou, Xi’an, Shanghai and Beijing

Haikou, the provincial capital of Hainan province and a key city in the 21st-century China Maritime Silk Road, is China’s best-performing city in 2021, according to the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities China index.

This has been driven by greater activity from Hainan’s free trade port, in addition to several industrial projects across the region.

The city of Haikou characterises the government’s efforts to facilitate international free trade and investment in key locations of the country’s One Belt, One Road initiative.

In 2018, China’s President Xi Jinping announced that the country would build its first socialist system-based free trade port (FTP) in Hainan province.

A key goal of this initiative was to facilitate international trade and investment throughout the entire province.

As the provincial capital, Haikou boasts one of the key business parks of the Hainan FTP, its Haikou Jiangdong New Area (HJNA) which offers various policy measures such as low corporate tax rates, investment funds, and streamlined processes for setting up business establishments.

Haikou has recently witnessed an influx of international investment and ranked first among all Chinese cities in 2016–2019 FDI growth in the Milken Institute’s index.

On the strength of the Jiangdong New Area FTP development, the central government extended the FTP for the entire province and issued the Master Plan for the Hainan Free Trade Port in Hainan Province in 2020.

As a key city in the 21st-century China’s Maritime Silk Road, Haikou and to a large extent the entire province, has focused on cultivating the resources for exhibition and trade, services, tourism, and seaport-related businesses.

The city, as well as the entire island province, is a zero-tariff jurisdiction in China for many business and commercial activities.

To download the full report of the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities China 2021 Index, visit

About the Best Performing Cities China Index

The Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities (BPC) China Index reportedly analyses the latest and most comprehensive official data, found in the China City Statistical Yearbook to track the recent economic performance of Chinese cities. The primary purpose of the series is to offer a tool to policymakers to monitor and evaluate the economic dynamics of cities in China.

Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities China Ranking


  1. Haikou, Hainan (海南省, 海口市)
  2. Guangzhou, Guangdong (广东省, 广州市)
  3. Xi’an, Shaanxi (陕西省, 西安市)
  4. Chengdu, Sichuan (四川省, 成都市)
  5. Shenzhen, Guangdong (广东省, 深圳市)
  6. Shanghai (上海市)
  7. Wuhan, Hubei (湖北省, 武汉市)
  8. Beijing (北京市)
  9. Changsha, Hunan (湖南省, 长沙市)
  10. Zhengzhou, Henan (河南省, 郑州市)


  1. Chuzhou, Anhui (安徽省, 滁州市)
  2. Fuyang, Anhui (安徽省, 阜阳市)
  3. Dongguan, Guangdong (广东省, 东莞市)
  4. Jiaxing, Zhejiang (浙江省, 嘉兴市)
  5. Xuancheng, Anhui (安徽省, 宣城市)
  6. Zhuhai, Guangdong (广东省, 珠海市)
  7. Ji’an, Jiangxi (江西省, 吉安市)
  8. Bozhou, Anhui (安徽省, 亳州市)
  9. Lijiang, Yunnan (云南省, 丽江市)
  10. Maanshan, Anhui (安徽省, 马鞍山市)

Related article: June 1st! Haikou to give 5 million in subsidies to newly established state-level key laboratories

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