An important city renowned for its historical and cultural heritage as well as for its natural beauty, Suzhou has been called "Capital of Silk", "Land of Abundance" and "World of Gardens". In 1981, this ancient city was listed by the State Council as one of the four cities (the other three being Beijing, Hangzhou and Guilin) where the protection of historical and cultural heritage as well as natural scenery should be treated as a prior project. Now the city comprises of four districts (Pingjiang, Taichang, Jinchang, Canglang and the suburbs) and six satellite cities (Changshou, Zhangjiagang, Taichang, Kunshan, Wuxian and Wujiang), which covers a total area of 8,488 square kilometers with a population of about 5.8 million (1.1 million in the city proper).
Bordering Shanghai on the east, Taihu Lake on the south, city of Wuxi on the west and the Yangtze River on the north, the city of Suzhou enjoys advantageous geography and excellent land, water and air transportation. The Jiangsu-Shanghai Railway, the jiangsu-Shanghai Expressway and the inter-province highways 312, 204 and 318 assure that the city is easily accessible to the nation's most larger markets and distribution centers. Suzhou boasts three seaports at Zhangjiagang, Liujia and Changshou. The port of Zhangjiagang handled 15 million tons of cargo with its 20 ten-thousand-ton berthes and 10 regular routes to Japan, Singapore, Hongkong, The mediterranean and other countries in Europe and America. The overall water freight capabilities have been enhanced significantly with the completion of ten-thousand-ton oil tanker berth in Port of Liujia, the opening of the route from Port of Changshou to City of Nantong and other expansion projects. Additionally, the city is served two airports, Shuofang Airport in the west and Guangfu United Airlines Airport in the south. And it is only slightly over one hours drive (85 kilo metres) from the city to the grand Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai.
In 1985, Suzhou (together with its six satellite cities) was set up by the State Council as one of the 14 Open Economic Areas in the nation's coastland. Since then, Suzhou Municipal Government and its people has warmly embraced the reform and open policy urged by the central government and become more committed to economic construction, restructuring and accomplishment. The "economy-focused" attitude and people's efforts are paying off. In 1994, the city's domestic gross product(DGP), gross output value of industry and agriculture and revenue reached 72.09 billion RMB Yuan, 250.537 billion Rmb yuan and 4.485 billion RMB yuan respectively, meaning an averagely annual increase of 21.5%, 22.4% and 11.1% respectively based on the figures for 1978. According to the 1994 reports of the State Statistic Bureau, Suzhou's DGP ranks fifth among the nation's large and medium-sized cities, and its six satellite cities are all rated among the nation's "the 100 strongest counties and suburban cities" in terms of economic performance: Zhangjiagang ranked second, Changshou sixth, Wuxian seventh, Kunshan ninth, Taichang eleventh, Wujiang thirteenth.
The local government's strategic plan for economic development has identified export and introduction of foreign investment as central factors in efforts to strengthen Suzhou's overall economy. In 1994, Suzhou companies recorded export of $2.25 billion in goods, taking up one third of the city's total industrial sales. In the same year, 1249 foreign companies selected Suzhou to open new projects completely of their own or set up joint ventures with Chinese partners, with announced $4.529 billion in capital investment. By the end of 1994, the accumulated number of enterprises solely or partially invested by foreign companies has come to 7469, with aggregate contract investment of $14.25 billion.
Impressive and sustainable growth of its overall economy, export volume and inflow of foreign capital investment provides an irrefutable testimony of Suzhou's economic potentiality and appeal. Many factors have contributed to the economy's sustainable growth and exceptional performance: strong business climate, extensive transportation network, the industrious and capable work force, well-administered higher education system and job training programmes, complete public utilities, moderate taxes and so on.
The prosperity of the city's economy and substantial increase of personal income, the quality of life of its people has improved considerably. Life is good in Suzhou and its suburbs, and the good life is affordable, too. People can afford electrical appliances, health care, colorful and varied outdoor recreation...almost everything in life.
Even with this exceptional performance, Suzhou is moving ahead with vision and focus. The city has already embarked on the road to the socialist market economy, with ever greater efforts to further enhance its economy to a new plateau and improve the quality of its people's life. The local government and its people are determined to build Suzhou into an international business metropolis, a large and competitive market both at home and abroad, a distribution center as well as a more attractive tourist resort. Those strategic plans will not sit on a shelf collecting dust-they are designed for action and will surely be fulfilled by the collective hard work of its citizens and people from other parts of the nation and the world.