Musanze’s Sister City: Explore Jinhua, the heart of Zhejiang’s economic growth and cultural heritage

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 5 June 2024 at 07:50

Jinhua, located in the heart of Zhejiang Province, is a city where ancient traditions meet modern innovation. Spanning 11,000 square kilometers and home to 7.12 million residents, Jinhua boasts a 10,000-year-old rice planting civilization that thrives alongside cutting-edge industrial hubs. The timeless teachings of Confucius resonate through its bustling markets, blending seamlessly with the city’s vibrant economic activity. This unique fusion of history, culture, and economic vitality makes Jinhua a truly extraordinary city.

Jinhua comprises two districts, Wucheng and Jindong, four county-level cities, Lanxi, Dongyang, Yiwu, and Yongkang, and three counties, Pujiang, Wuyi, and Pan’an. In 2023, Jinhua’s regional GDP reached an impressive 601.13 billion yuan (more than 80 billion US$), a testament to its robust economic growth.

Renowned for its rich historical and cultural heritage, Jinhua is often referred to as “another hometown of Confucius and Mencius.” The city boasts a 10,000-year-old rice planting civilization and an institution history spanning more than 2,200 years.

Over the centuries, Jinhua has been a cradle for numerous notable figures. Ancient luminaries include writer Song Lian, strategist Zong Ze, Taoist Wong Tai Sin, doctor Zhu Danxi, and musician Li Yu.

In more recent times, the city has produced influential individuals like Chen Wangdao, the first Chinese translator of the Communist Manifesto, historian Wu Han, writer Feng Xuefeng, Chinese painting master Huang Binhong, newspaper publisher Shao Piaoping, musician Shi Guangnan, poet Ai Qing, and scientist Yan Jici. Since China’s reform and opening-up, 1.2 million Jinhua natives have ventured out for development, with over 30,000 high-level talents contributing to the global community.

Strategically located, Jinhua is a central transport hub, essential for connecting various parts of China. The city is the second largest information port in Zhejiang and a national logistics hub for production and trade. With 10 railways and 9 highways, Jinhua and Yiwu stations accommodate 462 high-speed trains daily, directly connecting to 21 provincial capitals. These developments aim to establish Jinhua as a national comprehensive transport hub.

The city’s commitment to environmental sustainability is evident in its green landscapes and clean rivers, earning it the prestigious Dayu Golden Prize for water management. With a forest coverage rate of 61% and Class I drinking water quality, Jinhua is a haven for nature lovers, boasting five national scenic spots and one national 5A tourist area. Prominent attractions include the Double Dragon Cave, the Residence of Lord Shi of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, Hengdian World Studios, and Lanxi Zhuge Bagua Village.

Jinhua is also a powerhouse of industry and commerce, playing a pivotal role in Zhejiang’s private economy. The city is notable for its numerous market entities, with over 1.5 million registered businesses, ranking second in Zhejiang. Jinhua was the first prefecture-level city in the province to surpass one million privately or individually owned businesses.

The city hosts 86 markets with annual turnovers exceeding 100 million RMB (approximately 14 million US$) and four surpassing 10 billion RMB (around 1.4 billion US$). Yiwu China Commodity City, Yongkang China Science and Technology Hardware City, and Dongyang China Woodcarvings City are internationally recognized.

Jinhua’s industrial prowess includes 18-billion-yuan-level industrial clusters in sectors such as automotive, hardware, textiles, and medicine. Remarkably, two out of every three safety doors in China are produced in Jinhua, and one in every three TV dramas is filmed there. The city is also a leader in emerging economic models like cross-border e-commerce and influencer marketing, with its express delivery business consistently ranking first in China.

As a trailblazer in reform and opening-up, Jinhua has implemented over 50 national and provincial pilot reform programs. The Yiwu International Trade Comprehensive Reform Pilot Program, the only one of its kind in China, has set a precedent with its innovative “mart procurement” trade model.

Jinhua has also established several significant zones and clusters, including the Yiwu International Trade Comprehensive Reform Pilot Zone, the National Cross-border E-commerce Pilot Zone, the Jinyi New Area, the Hengdian Film and Television Cultural Industry Cluster, and the Zhejiang Free Trade Zone Jinyi Area.

The city’s three major opening-up channels—the Yiwu-Madrid Railway, the Yiwu-Ningbo-Zhoushan Channel, and cross-border e-commerce—connect Jinhua with 233 countries and regions. The city’s exports exceed 1 billion RMB (over 13 million US$) to 80 of these destinations, making Jinhua a significant player in international trade.

Partnership with Rwanda

On March 28, Jinhua signed a Sister Cities Agreement with Musanze District in Rwanda’s Northern Province, marking the first such agreement between China and Rwanda and symbolizing a new chapter of friendship and cooperation.

The signing ceremony was attended by Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda Wang Xuekun, Mr. Zhu Chonglie, Secretary of the Jinhua Municipal Committee of the CPC, Nzabonimpa Emmanuel, Executive Secretary of Rwanda’s Northern Province, and Claudien Nsengimana, Mayor of Musanze District.

Ambassador Wang reiterated the embassy’s support for promoting cooperation that benefits both peoples. Mr. Zhu Chonglie expressed Jinhua’s eagerness for better industrial collaboration, closer trade relations, and deeper cultural exchanges with Musanze. Mayor Nsengimana also highlighted that the agreement would enhance mutual understanding and build a brighter future for both cities.

On the same day, Dr. Sylvie Mucyo, Vice Chancellor of Rwanda Polytechnic, and Dr. Zhang Yanping, Vice President of Jinhua Polytechnic, signed a five-year agreement for an exchange program where 30 students from IPRC Musanze will study for two years in Rwanda and one year in China for an Advanced Diploma.

This initiative has already started, with 30 Rwandan students embarking on a year-long study program in China to delve into e-commerce and electrical automation vocational skills at Jinhua Polytechnic in Zhejiang Province.

This agreement follows a longstanding partnership between IPRC Musanze and Jinhua Polytechnic, spanning more than a decade. Notable achievements include the inauguration of the Rwanda Luban Workshop last November, which enhances technical and vocational education training (TVET) in Rwanda. The workshop features a laboratory equipped with new technologies, including robots, to train students.

So far, the partnership has recruited 210 students and conducted "Chinese language plus vocational skills" training for nearly 10,000 people, providing vital support for Chinese-funded enterprises in Rwanda and improving the employability of Rwandan youths. Both China and Rwanda attach great importance to TVET due to its role in human resource development and national transformation.

At the workshop launch, Ambassador Wang said the 10 years of collaboration between Rwanda Polytechnic and Jinhua Polytechnic "reflects the deep friendship between Chinese and Rwandan people, and more importantly, shows what we can achieve through working together."

Since 2018, IPRC Musanze has graduated over 1,700 students and offers courses in irrigation and drainage technology, construction technology, highway engineering, e-commerce, and information technology. Student enrollment has grown from 171 in 2014 to over 1,800 currently.

The hilly topography of Jinhua required the construction of tunnels to ensure seamless movement.
A view of Huayuan Town in Huayuan County, Jinhua.
The city’s commitment to environmental sustainability is evident in its green landscapes.
This photo shows a bird's-eye view of Huayuan Town.
Jinhua has a forest coverage rate of 61%.
Infrastructure is a well-thought-out aspect of development in Jinhua.
Yiwu International Trade Market consists of five districts.
Jinhua boasts five national scenic spots.
Jinhua is a haven for nature lovers.

Photos: Théophile Niyitegeka / Zhejiang, China