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Yiwu's population surge reflects social change

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: May 27, 2021 L M S

The permanent resident population in Yiwu, a county-level city in East China's Zhejiang province, stood at 1,859,400 in 2020, up 50.68 percent from 1,234,000 in 2010, according to the 7th national census.

Yiwu's population is now the highest among all counties and county-level cities in the province. As many as 880,200 permanent residents in Yiwu, nearly half of the population, are inbound immigrants from outside Zhejiang.

The city's remarkable population growth reflects its socioeconomic transformation over the past decade.

A melting pot of entrepreneurs 

Home to the world's largest wholesale market of small commodities, Yiwu has established business ties with 2 million micro-, small- and medium sized companies and 287 markets nationwide, as well as 233 countries and regions worldwide.

The number of market entities in the city currently stands at 734,000, a stark increase from 153,000 in 2010, accounting for roughly 8 percent of the provincial aggregate. Nearly three out of every 10 Yiwu residents are business owners.

The number of e-commerce market entities in the city has soared from 1,373 in 2010 to 280,000 in 2020, meaning that hundreds of thousands of jobs were created in a single industry. The recent rise of live-streaming e-commerce in the city has also attracted many young white-collar workers to Yiwu.

The thriving e-commerce scene has also boosted the growth of the express delivery industry. The city's express delivery volume exceeded 7 billion parcels in 2020 (8.5 percent of the national aggregate then), up from 630 million parcels in 2016 (3 percent of the national aggregate then). Meanwhile, the number of couriers in the city rose from 7,500 in 2016 to 20,000 in 2020.

Apart from consolidating its advantages in more than 20 conventional industries such as socks, accessories, textile, cosmetics, and toys, Yiwu has also managed to build modern manufacturing clusters for photoelectric information and auto industries, constantly drawing in heavyweight investors.

The industrial value-add for Yiwu's above-designated-sized companies posted the highest growth rate among the province's 17 most prosperous county-level regions in 2020. The city's lighting technology town alone hired 20,000 workers this year, 60 percent of whom hold degrees.

To address its weakness in developing local talents, Yiwu has gotten renowned universities such as China Jiliang University, Zhejiang University and Fudan University to establish new campuses there.


The Yiwu campus of China Jiliang University, located at the Yiwu Shuangjiang Lake University Town, has enrolled more than 3,000 undergraduates and postgraduates. [Photo/Zhejiang Daily]

Tempting offers to recruit talents

Yiwu has rolled out a host of policies to attract well-educated and highly-skilled workers from various fields.

For example, a recruitment notice published by the city's education system in March went viral as it offered a maximum annual pay of 1.2 million yuan ($187,920) for primary and middle school teachers, far above the national average.

According to a government official, senior medical doctors at key hospitals would receive a pay raise if they moved to Yiwu. These doctors would also be awarded a 130-square-meter apartment in the downtown area if they remain in Yiwu for 10 years.

According to a policy released last June, qualified fresh college graduates could receive monthly government subsidies for up to 3 years starting from the first month they pay local social insurance. A doctorate degree holder working as a scientific researcher in the city could receive 3,000 yuan in monthly living allowance, 12,000 yuan in annual rental subsidy, and an 800,000-yuan waiver for housing purchases.

For business professionals in foreign trade and e-commerce, Yiwu authorities will evaluate their social contributions - rather than education background and technical titles - every year to determine the appropriate bonuses.

Sound public services

To ensure that talents remain in Yiwu for long periods, the authorities have in recent years taken steps to enhance public services, particularly education and healthcare.

Yiwu's education expenses over the past decade amounted to 27 billion yuan, resulting in the establishment, expansion and upgrading of 114 kindergartens and public schools.

The city has also established and renovated 10 local hospitals.