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New Forbes rankings: Central, Western China increasingly competitive

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Forbes China's newest rankings of the top 100 mainland Chinese cities for doing business suggest that as a business destination, Kunming and western China lag behind much of the rest of China but are starting to catch up.

This year Kunming was rated China's 60th-best city for doing business by Forbes. The ranking may not be impressive in itself, but Kunming was one of the fastest-rising cities in the list, jumping 37 places from its previous ranking of 97.

Not surprisingly, Forbes ranked Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen the top three mainland cities for doing business. Provinces with the most cities on Forbes' list include Jiangsu, which has 16 cities on the list, and Zhejiang and Shandong, which have 14 cities each.

What may be surprising to some, this year's rankings – the sixth time the magazine has published the list – suggest an increasing level of competition between Chinese cities. They also reflect the rising economic clout of China's central and western regions vis-à-vis the country's coast, where external demand and investment, which have contracted during the global recession, play a bigger role in local economies.

All major economic hubs in central China moved up in the Forbes rankings this year, including number 14 Wuhan (up 19 places), number 25 Zhengzhou (up 37), number 28 Changsha (up eight), number 61 Nanchang (up two) and number 62 Taiyuan, which made its first appearance on the list.

The once laggard region of western China has also been rising in economic importance. Remaining at number 12, Chengdu leads the way for western Chinese cities including number 24 Chongqing, number 31 Xi'an and Kunming. Three western cities made their debut on the list, with Nanning – Kunming's major rival for Southeast Asian markets – entering at the 54 spot, Guiyang at number 92 and Lanzhou at 93.

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Long way to go for Kunming - the environment in the investment zones is nowhere on par with similar sizeable anywhere else in China.

Customer service and follow up on investors inquieries is nowhere be seen.

Kunming interested only in big investments, but lets all SME investments go by...Nanning will be happy about. The environment there is better and more welcomming. Close proximity to Pearl River Delta is an advantage as well.

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