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2016 China International Cities Index

Maxxelli is delighted to announce its second China International Cities Index (CICI) report, providing information concerning 24 cities compared to the first report in 2015 which advised on six cities. The report describes how rapid development, improving living standards and prospering business environments, are the reason second-tier cities are now an oasis for foreigners and business opportunities.

The CICI report

In order to compare the level of internationalization of second-tier cities in China, Maxxelli has generated the China International Cities Index (CICI) for the past two years. This study provides a comparison of key emerging second-tier cities in China and uses the previously mentioned indicators to identify how international a city is. A detailed methodology can be found at the end of each report.

In the first report in 2015, six cities were included, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Xi’an, Wuhan and Changsha. Due to further demand for information, the second report looks at 24 cities, two of them (Guangzhou and Shenzhen) first-tier and 22 second-tier. Both reports allow companies to compare how effectively they will be able to conduct business in emerging, second tier Chinese cities and how those studied in both reports have developed over the past year.

The recently published report allows comparisons of different regions in China, as well as individual cities. Positives and negatives are outlined and explanations offered as to the current status of the cities. It also contains recommendations on certain areas of cities which should be addressed in order to make them more internationally competitive.

Global China

Boasting a nominal GDP of over US$ 11 trillion, China is the world’s second-largest economy, and a core member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group of emerging major economies. The free market economy is opening up to the world at an unprecedented rate; a transition reflected in progressively more international business practice, as China’s borders become increasingly porous to multinational operations. China’s investment environment is adapting fast to attract foreign investment, incorporating extensive policy, financial and legal reforms.

Second-tier cities

Cities in the first-tier are highly international, with both Beijing and Shanghai labelled top-twenty global cities. But in recent decades, the country has witnessed the rise of the second-tier of emerging market cities, that are playing an important role in the country’s economic growth, and are gaining an increasingly prominent position on the global stage. As of mid-2015, China had fifteen megacities, nearly half of the number in the world. However, the fastest economic growth is happening in those with a population of around five million, meaning the number of people living in cities is expected to increase exponentially over the next few years. The country’s potential for widespread growth has led companies to look beyond the first-tier cities, to the opportunities offered by the second tier, where they maintain a competitive stance in a dynamic and liveable business environment.


Higher levels of internationalization in a city are important to foreign companies due to increased market potential, accessibility, liveability and growth prospects. Whilst internationalization is variously defined and characterized, in this report, it is expressed through six core themes deemed to be effective indicators of internationalism. These six themes are Global Economic Strength, International Commerce, Social Capital, Infrastructural Connectivity, Government and Political Engagement and Culture and Tourism.


Click the picture below to read the full report

If there is a particular city whose ranking you are interested in seeing, that has not yet been included here, or for further information or clarification, please contact us via

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