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Chengdu, formerly romanized as Chengtu, is the provincial capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China,as well as a major city in Western China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status.The administrative area houses 14,047,625 inhabitants: 7,123,697 within the municipality's nine urban districtsand 6,730,749 in the surrounding suburbs and rural area. According to the 2010 census, Chengdu is the fourth most populous city in mainland China,and most populous among prefecture-level cities as well.

Chengdu is one of the most important economic, transportation, and communication centers in Western China. Up to now, Chengdu Railway Station is one the six biggest train stations in China, while Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is top 50 airports all over world. According to the 2007 Public Appraisal for Best Chinese Cities for Investment, Chengdu was chosen as one of the top ten cities to invest in out of a total of 280 urban centers in China.Chengdu is also popular in international company and consulates.More than 250 Fortune 500 companies and 10 consulates have established branches in Chengdu due to huge demand of Western China. In 2006, it was named China's 4th-most livable city by China Daily.

The fertile Chengdu Plain, on which Chengdu is located, is also known as the "Country of Heaven" (Chinese: 天府之国; pinyin: Tiānfǔzhiguó), a phrase also often translated as "The Land of Abundance". The discovery of the Jinsha site suggests the area of Chengdu had become the center of the bronze age Sanxingdui culture around the time of the establishment of the state of Shu, prior to its annexation by Qin in 316 BC.


A city of innovation 

Chengdu has been the regional hub of southwestern China for centuries, but its recent embrace of technology shows that it's not content to rest on its laurels.

The only thing foreign readers may know about Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is that it's famous for giant pandas and hotpot. However, the inland city in southwestern China is closely bound up in the work and lives of people around the world.

Think about this: one out of five computers in your office is made in Chengdu, one out of two laptops in your classroom had their chips packaged and tested in Chengdu, and two out of three iPads come from Chengdu.

Multinationals have flocked to the regional hub in recent years as China go west campaign has expanded. And more are arriving in the hope of exploiting the opportunities offered by national strategies to develop the Silk Road Economic Belt, the Yangtze River Economic Zone, and the Tianfu New Area.

With it's large talent pool, rich natural resources, and huge market potential, Chengdu has become home to 262 Fortune Global 500 companies, such as Intel, Dell, Texas Instruments, and Foxconn.

The ancient city remains keen to make a mark on the world. In its 3,000-year history, Chengdu invented the world’s earliest paper currency Jiaozi;, the elegant Shu brocade, and world-renowned Sichuan cuisine. Today, it's attempting to have an even greater impact on the world with more created in Chengdu;.

Unlike the giant pandas who spend most of their time eating and sleeping, companies in Chengdu are running at full speed to catch up with the world, and making the “land of abundance” into a land of innovation.

We start much later than the leading foreign companies, but innovation could help us lead the future, said Zhang Ming, president of Sichuan Sunfor Light Co, a producer of LED lighting equipment.

Zhang is confident that his company's products will have a strong impact on the lighting industry and challenge the giants in the field.


Rare breakthrough

In 2013, the company made a breakthrough by incorporating rare-earth luminescent material in LED lighting technology, a move that was hailed by 10 members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Most of the LED products on the market have to be fitted with a converter to change AC into DC, to avoid the eye-damaging stroboflash caused by alternating current.

However, the rare-earth luminescent powder developed by Sunfor Light glows in accordance with AC frequencies, freeing LED products from the stroboflash problem powered by AC electricity, the academicians said.

The technological achievement opens up a brand new route for AC LED lighting,said one of the academicians.

The new products can last as long as 10 years, and they are 15 to 20 percent more energy-efficient than direct current LED products, Zhang said.

The new technology helped Sunfor Light active expand its global reach in 2014, winning customers from countries including the United States, Germany, Russia, Spain, and Brazil.

The company's revenue rose 30 percent to $ 45 million last year, despite the economic downturn in the country. “Exports topped $ 5 million in 2014, and we expect the number to triple this year,he said.

Zhang said the support of local government has helped the company in a number of ways, from obtaining bank loans to expanding office space.The Chengdu government attaches great importance to innovation, and has formulated a number of policies to encourage innovation,” he said.

Early in February, Chengdu officially launched the “Entrepreneurial Tianfu program, to encourage university students, scientific and technological talents, and overseas top talents to start up business and boost innovation in the city. According to the plan, Chengdu is to build into an internationally renowned city of innovation and entrepreneurship by 2025. 

The development potential, good living conditions, and Chengdu's cultural environment has helped companies attract and retain talents from around the country,” Zhang said. More than half of Sunfor Light's employees come from outside Chengdu and Sichuan.

The city has the largest number of universities and colleges in western China, being able to provide enterprises with at least 150,000 graduates and 100,000 technicians every year. Most of them would choose to stay in Chengdu.

By the end of last year, Chengdu has 1.5 million professional and technical personnel, more than 30,000 technological enterprises, and 84 innovation and entrepreneurship carriers covering 2.8 million square meters in total. 198 venture capital organizations have registered in Chengdu, managing capital of 60 billion yuan.


Sole survivors

Some traditional industries are thriving, too. Sheme, a woman's shoe brand from Chengdu that combines traditional Chinese cultural elements and Western fashion, has won international fame. The brand, which targets the high-end market, was launched in 2009 by Chengdu Aiminer Leather Products Co.

Late in 2013, Sheme debuted its Butterfly and Blossoms collection at London Fashion Week, making it the first Chinese footwear brand to exhibit at the renowned event.

Founded in 1996, Aiminer was originally a small operation with just 20 employees, but as Chengdu opened up, Liu Qiongying, Aiminer's owner, went overseas in search of business opportunities.

China is so rich in cultural resources, why not incorporate those references in the shoes? she asked herself, while visiting an international brand's show case event in Italy.

To further that vision, Liu invited designers from Canada, France and Italy to join her design team. They absorbed the Chinese elements in fine art, architecture, opera and embroidery to improve the brand’s international standing.

Today, the company has stores in the best stalls in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, and is direct competition with the international luxury brands. Now, there are plans to open stores in London, Paris, Milan, and Hong Kong.

In addition to Sheme, Aiminer has other four brands. The company produced 1.5 million leather shoes for women in 2014, and about 90 percent of them were for export to more than 30 countries, including Germany, Italy, Russia, Poland, the US, Australia, and Japan.

Set to soar with successes

People in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, are always ready to accept new things and new concepts from outside.

Perhaps this openness is a result of the city’s long history: Chengdu has long been the regional hub of southwestern China, and was one of the most prosperous cities in ancient China, long before Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong took shape. It's also the largest trade and cultural center in the upper section of the Yangtze River.

Long ago, the city was the starting point of the South Silk Road (an earlier, but less famous route than the better-known Silk Road), which crossed Yunnan province, then Burma or Tibet, to India and the Middle East.

Chengdu has experienced a number of major population influxes, from the central provinces of Hunan and Hubei, and the Jiangxi, Fujiang and Guangdong provinces in the southeast, making it one of China’s most diverse and inclusive cities.

As the city’s international railways and airlines increase the number of foreign exchanges, Chengdu is acquiring a wider influence internationally. Multinational companies and international fashion brands have arrived in large numbers to expand their footprints in the city.

Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu, a new 100,000-square-meter shopping center in the city's downtown area, has lined up hundreds of international fashion and lifestyle brands, including Gucci, Cartier, Ralph Lauren, Moleskine, Drivepro, and The Beast.

When the Chengdu International Finance Square — located close to Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu opened in January last year, about 300 luxury, jewelry and fashion labels, many of them leading brands, headed to the city.

Statistics show that by the end of last year, Chengdu was host to the fourth-highest number of luxury brand outlets in China, after Shanghai, Beijing and Shenyang.

Aware of the market potential in Chengdu and West China, a large number of international brands have located flagship stores in the city. In December last year, the Japanese brand MUJI opened its largest flagship store covering more than 3,000 square meters at Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu, and the same month saw Starbucks open its first flagship store for the central and southwestern region in the center.

I love this city because it perfectly combines tradition and modern life,” said Wu Dan, a 24-year-old, who moved to Chengdu after graduating from college.

It the perfect city in which to live and work. I appreciate the rapid development and internationalization of the city she said.