By Martin Vedris in Shunde

SHUNDE, CHINA: Shunde is a city on the rise in China and its annual China Shunde International Exposition for Household Electrical Appliances is well-timed to coincide with the massive Canton Fair in Guangzhou to encourage international businesses to consider Shunde as a manufacturing base.

Shunde is famous for being the birthplace of Bruce Lee’s father and for having the Bruce Lee ancestral home, although you wouldn’t know it unless you actively searched it out. In Shunde there is a street named after Bruce Lee him and a museum dedicated to him his films — his father was born in Jun’an township.

The modest way that the city of Shunde makes no fuss about its Bruce Lee heritage is indicative of the way it positions itself in the scheme of Chinese manufacturing.

As a visitor to the show, I was told by several exhibitors that the Shunde show is just a small local show. Some even encouraged me to take the free shuttle bus from the Shunde show to Guangzhou to see the 104th Canton Fair, which is running in three phases from 15 October to 6 November. They said that the Canton Fair was a real show of China’s capability.

The real find is the Shunde show however, not the Canton Fair. This is a seriously capable manufacturing district and one of the wealthiest counties in China.

The Shunde GDP reached 127.5 billion yuan in 2007 (AUD $27.1 billion), an annual increase of 18 per cent, and GDP per capita reached 107,991 yuan (AUD $22,997).

Shunde is already rich in foreign capital — over 42 per cent of the city’s industrial output is created by foreign-funded enterprises. Over a third of the county’s products are exported to Europe and American.

The more well-known local Chinese brands like Kelon and Midea are made in Shunde. As the largest producer of cooling products in China, Midea produces over 1.2 million air conditioners and 1.91 million fans annually.

Galanz, which is the world’s largest microwave oven producer, is situated in Shunde. In 2000, Galanz manufactured microwave ovens accounted for 35 per cent of the international market.

Shunde has also opened a technology park containing car manufacturers such as Toyota.

Shunde is like the kid in the playground that doesn’t know its own strength. Its geographical positioning close to Hong Kong and Guangzhou make it ideal for international businesses to base their manufacturing here.

Guangzhou city centre is 38 km north of Shunde, Macao is 78 km south and Hong Kong is 120 km southeast.

This year people were encouraged to leave the Shunde show to visit the Canton Fair, to see how big it is. Next year, maybe more international businesses will leave the Canton Fair to visit the Shunde show to meet the local manufacturers and see how big they can be.