The town of Zhangpu, lying at the eastern part of the Tai Lake Basin, covers an area of 119 square kilometers. Located within the county-level city Kunshan that ranks first on the list of "China's Top 100 Counties", it is 43 kilometers away from the international metropolis Shanghai to its east, and 27 kilometers away from the historic and cultural city of Suzhou to its west. Adjacent to downtown Kunshan to its north, it borders the southern ecological tourist area of Kunshan in the south. It is crisscrossed by several major expressways and railways, such as the Suzhou-Hongqiao Airport Expressway, the Suzhou-Shanghai Expressway and the Suzhou Outer Ring Expressway. It is close to quite a few transportation arteries, including, for example, Kunshan Middle Ring Road, the 312 National Highway, the Beijing-Shanghai Expressway, and the Shanghai-Nanjing High-Speed Railway. The Wusong River, which originates from Taihu Lake, flows through Zhangpu by way of the ports in Shanghai, Zhangjiagang and Taicang, which makes the town easily accessible by water. Lying in the "golden triangle" surrounded by Shanghai, Suzhou and Kunshan, Zhangpu is one of the town-level hubs in the Yangtze River Delta's effort to open its door wider to the rest of the world. Over the years, it has won a series of nationwide awards in recognition of its economic, social and environmental achievements, such as "National Model Town in Environmental Beauty", "National Healthy Town" and "National Model Town in Urbanization". It is also among the 25 most developed towns selected to pilot administrative reforms and the first batch of 90 cities to experiment with the nation-wide smart city program. Moreover, it is the forerunner in Suzhou to pilot comprehensive reforms as part of the city's rural-urban integrated development endeavor. In 2015, it reported RMB 21.05 billion in GDP, RMB 67.2 billion in industrial output, and RMB 1.69 billion in fiscal revenue.
Reform as an engine of economic growth: In April 2010, Zhangpu was selected by six ministries and commissions of China, including the State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform, National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance, as one of the most developed towns to pilot administrative reforms. Accordingly, it has implemented a new administrative structure and operating model, integrating front- and back-end functions. Compared with other towns, Zhangpu enjoys a higher level of autonomy in approving and licensing programs and projects and can directly issue permits and licenses to applicants, including enterprises and other forms of organizations, which has enhanced its reputation and competitiveness. As a result, many influential investment projects have chosen Zhangpu as their host. In January 2014, Zhangpu was granted "The Seventh Chinese Local Government Innovative Award" for its success in administrative reforms.
Industry as a driver of competitiveness: In recent years, manufacturing has been entrenched as the major pillar for the economy. Specifically, Zhangpu has established the German Industrial Park (GIP) as the major powerhouse for its economic growth and transition. As an important investment platform for European and American companies, the GIP is now underpinned by three major industries: precision machinery; advanced food processing; and headquarters and logistics, accommodating 100 European and American companies, including 43 German companies. In 2013, the GIP was recognized by the Ministry of Science and Technology as a national hub of scientific cooperation between China and Germany.
Ecological beauty as a boost to tourism: Zhangpu is a typical water town of the Yangtze River Delta that has been known as a "land of fish and rice" since ancient times. To strengthen its tourism, Zhangpu has introduced a tourist program called "Enjoy the Four Seasons" to attract tourists, who can admire flowers in spring, eat melons in summer, pick fruits in autumn and taste freshwater fish and shrimp in winter. In its vast modern agricultural park that covers a total area of 66.67 hectares, there are pear, peach and blueberry orchards beautified by an inviting waterscape, as well as an agricultural research center, attracting a large number of leisure-oriented tourists to enjoy the beauty of the local ecological environment.
Culture as the soul of the town: Throughout its long history, Zhangpu has been a productive cradle of talent. It is home to several famous historic sites, including Zhaoling Hill where was discovered the Liangzhu Culture that dates back over 5,000 years, and Jianghang Village, which is shaped like a buagua map and has been selected by a national rural beautification program as a pilot. In addition, another national model village, Jinhua, is not only a successful example of rural development that has experienced continuous improvement of its economic strength and beautification of its rural environment, but also a showcase of the pioneering and enterprising spirit of new rural communities in China.
Looking into the future, Zhangpu will capitalize on its advantageous geographical location, opportunities created by reforms and and its rich cultural resources, to build itself into an industrialized town and an ecological habitat whose competitiveness is underpinned by institutional innovation, differentiated industries, balanced rural-urban development, an attractive ecological environment, cultural inclusion and high living standards.