COVID-19 Fallout Recedes At China Inland Transport Hub Zhengzhou: Forbes China Forum

Henan Zhonglu Group Vice Chairman George Wang.

Henan Zhonglu Group

Zhengzhou isn’t as well-known globally as Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. Yet the growing population in the inland transportation hub ranks among the country’s biggest, totaling more than 10 million. The city boasts a GDP of approximately $150 billion, and is the capital of Henan, one of China’s most populous and historic provinces.  Notable international businesses with a presence in Zhengzhou include Hon Hai Precision, which makes iPhones there.

Given its heft, the central China metropolis is a useful window into China’s economic recovery from COVID-19. And according to the vice chairman of one of the city’s most successful private businesses, that recovery is advancing.

“Life is getting back to normal,” Henan Zhonglu Group Vice Chairman George Wang said at the U.S.-China Business Forum organized by Forbes China held online on Aug. 25.

Backing that up, Wang cited a rebound in economic data in May. Whereas consumer good sales fell by 21% in the city in the first four months of the year, they rose by 2.1% year-on-year in May. In the same month, he said, auto sales increased by 9% and consumer electronics sales increased by 11%. And in July, the average price for residential real estate units sold in the city rose by 3.7% year-on-year, according to July figures, Wang noted. Those kind of gains helped China’s GDP to increase by 3.2% in the second quarter of 2020 from a year earlier, compared with a first-quarter drop of 6.8%.

With global consumption weak, China will be relying more on spending at home in cities like Zhengzhou to fuel its overall economic growth. The country’s plans for a greater role for domestic spending were recently spelled out under a “dual circulation” policy.

Zhonglu has a good perch on Zhengzhou. Chairman Wang Chaobin has been accumulating real estate there since the early 1990s, when the one-time public transportation inspector ventured into the private sector and started to invest in property. He was worth an estimated $2 billion on the 2020 Forbes Billionaires List.  Son George, also known as Wang Zhonghai, is U.S.-educated and holds a degree from Emory University in Atlanta.

To be sure, not all of Henan is firing on all cylinders. Tourist visits at its normally popular sites such as Shaolin Temple will take time to recover, Wang said. Yet overall, he said, COVID-19’s impact is receding.

Other participants in the U.S.-China Business Forum included Cho Tak Wong, chairman of Fuyao Glass Industry; IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond;  Hao Hong, the Head of Research, BOCOM International, a subsidiary of the Bank of Communications; Ken Jarrett, a senior advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group; Duane Kuang, a member of the 2020 Forbes Midas List and founding managing partner of Qiming Venture Partners; Dr. Bob Li, Physician Ambassador to China and Asia-Pacific, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization; and Roger Wang,chairman of the Golden Eagle International Group, and chairman of the Committee of 100.

Forbes China is the Chinese-language edition of Forbes.

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