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Anhui: the future center for shipping & logistics in East China?

Anhui is a land-locked province in East China. The territory of Anhui was part of China since the early dynasties. But, for most of the time, the governments used to split Anhui in different provinces. Qing dynasty, in XVII century, was the first one to consider Anhui as a single province. Its capital is Hefei.

Map of China’s provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and special administrative regions. Source: chokkicx / Getty Images

Han are the vast majority in Anhui. There is also a well present Hui minority.

Anhui: a sharp contrast between south and north

Anhui’s two main rivers – Yangtze and Huai – cross it respectively in the south and the north. The northern part of Anhui is plain and populated. The south, instead, is less hospital due to its mountainous territory. The climate, as a consequence, is also different between south and north, but it is, in general, temperate.
Anhui's Huangshan, a world heritage site
Anhui has a population comparable to a major European country, with more than 60 million inhabitants. Around 8 million live in the capital city’s area.

Manufacturing and Hi-Tech products: but is that enough?

Anhui’s manufacturing includes automotive, with Chery, one of the biggest vehicle brands in China, being based there, as well as high-tech products. Agriculture is still present as well, with wheat, sweet potatoes and rice. The presence of minerals in the area, such as iron and copper, encourage basic industry, such as steelworks.
Anhui’s economy suffered from its traditional lack of infrastructure and lagged behind its neighbors. The first bridge on the Yangtze river was completed less than 30 years ago. Railroads also improved recently, with high-speed services getting more common and convenient. An exception to this rule, though, is the presence of many highways, which make Anhui a useful connecting point to many other cities of China. This status is highlighted by the development of the high speed railways in the area. This means that the economy of Anhui has a good opportunity to catch the pace.
Special Economic and Technological Development Zones are present in Hefei and Wuhu cities, with an focus on export processing for heavy industry, logistics and shipping.

Ancient tourist spots and a focus on Chinese tradition

Anhui's capital city of Hefei
The main tourist attraction of Anhui is Huangshan (literally Yellow Mountain). Huangshan is a world heritage site extremely famous in China, and easily accessible from Shanghai by plane and rail. Huangshan has ancient temples, incredible views and is home to several endangered species, which make it an interesting spot for different types of tourists. Other world heritage sites and tourist attractions are the ancient cities of Hongcun and Xidi, which still have many buildings from the Ming and Qing dynasty.
Anhui is also famous for its Chinese calligraphy products, such as paper and inkstones.
The ancient Hujiu opera, which was common in the Huizhou area (Southern Anhui) influenced the more famous Beijing Opera.

Anhui is a province that receives harsh judgement by some, due to the presence of richer neighbors such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu, which have a more developed economy. Nevertheless, its biggest troubles – infrastructure – have been taken care of and are improving constantly, which means it is possible for Anhui to catch the pace of the neighbors. Even better would be to take care of Anhui’s convenient geographical position and highways to let it become a major shipment and logistic hub for East China. Perhaps, in order to do that, it needs to become an economic center and try to win skilled workers from its neighbors.

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