Chinese Studies
2012. Vol.1, No.2, 5-8
Published Online August 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 5
Pattern and Policies of Mainland China’s MICE Industry
Jianhua Wu, Xuan Xiao
Tourism School, Guan g D on g U ni ve rsity of Business S t ud i es , Guangzhou, China
Email: wujianhua304@126. c om,
Received June 7th, 2012; r evised July 20th, 2012; acce pted August 13th, 2012
China’s MICE industry has witnessed rapid growth over the past decade. In the mainland China, however,
its further development is affected by deficiencies in the planning and controlling policies. This short re-
port will introduce the pattern of its MICE industry, discuss the merits and deficiencies of local and
state-level policies, so as to explore directions for institutional improvement. The division of five econo-
imic zones was first put forward by Feng Jun (2006) with a view to promoting exhibition business in
mainland China. The framework was later enriched by Zhang Wei, Vice Chairman of the China Council
for the Promotion of International Trade. This short report illustrates the detailed features of each eco-
nomic zone, as well as their incentive policies, with the hope of helping the local and central governments
in their policy-making for MICE industry.
Keywords: Patterns of Mainland China’s MICE Industry; Incentive Policies; Policy Features
The Basic Pattern and Features of Mainland
China’s MICE Industry
Basic Pattern
Since Reform and Opening-up, mainland China’s MICE in-
dustry has developed fast and formed five economic zones,
namely, Bohai Sea Circle, Yangtse-River Delta, Pe arl-River Delta,
Northeast China Region, and Central-West China Region.
Zone 1: Bohai Sea Circle, including Beijing, Tianjin; Qing-
dao, Jinan, Yantai, Weifang, and Weihai in Shandong Province;
Shijiazhuang, Tangshan, Langfang in Hebei Province, etc, with
Beijing as the core. This early-developed zone features abun-
dant large-scale players, and highly-specialized and interna-
tionalized exhibitions. It brags about a cluster of famous MICE
brands. Beijing is the headquarter of numerous state-level sci-
entific organizations and industrial associations, which endows
the city with incomparable advantages in industrial specialized
technology exhibitions. There are 22 UFI certified exhibition
brands in mainland China, and nine of them are in Beijing, such
as CIMT (China International Machine Tool Show), CITME
(China International Textile Machinery Exhibition), P&T/
EXPO COMM CHINA, CHIC (China International Clothing &
Accessories Fair), China Refrigeration, BICES (Beijing Inter-
national Construction Machinery Exhibition and Seminar), Me-
tallurgy China, ChinaMed (International Medical Instruments
& Equipment Exhibition) and China Print.
Zone 2: Yangtse-River Delta, including Nanjing, Suzhou and
Nantong in Jiangsu Province, Hefei in Anhui Province, Ningbo,
Wenzhou, Yiwu and Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, with
riverside cities as one wing, and coastal cities as the other.
Ningbo and Wenzhou focus on manufacturing exhibitions;
Suzhou is concentrated on foreign-trade and foreign-fund exhi-
bitions; Hangzhou positions itself as a composite destination
for leisure, meetings and sightseeing. Thanks firstly to a good
start, secondly to the commitment of local governments, and
thirdly to the rational planning of MICE projects, this zone is
fairly dynamic, with its great potential mostly based on geo-
graphic advantages and proper industrial structure.
Zone 3: Pearl-River Delta, covering Guangzhou, Shenzhen,
Dongguan, Shunde, Zhuhai and Zhongshan in Guangdong
Province, and Fuzhou, Xiamen in Fujian Province, with
Guangzhou as the core1. This zone is highly modernized and
globalized, featuring distinguished MICE industrial structure.
The exhibition distribution there shows obvious geographic and
industrial concentration. Another distinguished feature of the
zone is its keen “coopertitions” with Hongkong and Macao,
which has been greatly prompted by the implementation of
CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement) scheme.
Hongkong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou enjoy solid industrial
basis, convenient transportation and developed logistics, which
endow them with the statuses of the zone’s top three interna-
tional exhibition centres.
Zone 4: Northeast China Region, including Dalian, Chang-
chun, Harbin, Shenyang and Jilin, with Dalian as the leading
city. This zone is adjacent to Russia, South Korea and North
Korea, so it utilizes geographic advantage to develop Rus-
sia-oriented or Korea-oriented tra de fairs. It also takes advan-
tage of its strength in heavy industry to hold relative exhibi-
tions, such as International Automobile Fair in Chuangchun,
International Equipment Manufacturing Expo in Shenyang,
CIGF (China International Garment & textile Fair) in Dalian,
Zone 5: Central-West China Region, including Chongqing
and Chengdu in Sichuan Province, Zhengzhou in Henan Prov-
ince, Wuhan in Hubei Province, Changsha in Hunan Province,
Xi’an in Shaanxi Province, Kunming in Yunnan Province and
Nanning in Guangxi Province. This zone tends to foster exhibi-
tion brands with regional characteristics, such as Western China
International Fair in Chengdu, CCHTF (Chongqing Hi-Tech
Fair) in Chongqing, China East-West Region Cooperation,
Investment & Trading Fair in Xi’an, CAEXPO (China-ASEAN
Expo) in Nanning, etc.
1Hongkong and Macao Special Administrative Regions are traditionally
regarded as part of the zone. They are omitted here for the mere purpose o
focusing our discussion on mainland China’s MICE industry.
Expos distribution in various MICE economic zones in 2008
is displayed in Figure 1.
Features of the Pattern
We observe from the following aspects:
Geographic distribution: Five MICE economic zones are be-
ginning to take shape with each being centered by a major
metropolitan as its core. However, some zones are rather no-
minal. By that we mean some cities are classified into the same
zone just because of their geographic adjacency, but not be-
cause of the interactions or linkages among them.
Characteristics of MICE cities: Based on local industrial re-
sources, the five zones have stepped into their initial stage of
interactive and multi-tier pattern. Yet none of the zones has
fostered distinguished features, not to mention irreplaceable
Drives of MICE industry: Although each zone has some
well-known exhibition brands, none of them has dominant
power. Hence the drive of central MICE metropolitans to satel-
lite cities is too weak to form competitive urban clusters.
Industrial distribution: MICE industry in first-tier cities is
booming; that in second-tier cities, sprouting; while in while
small or remote cities, it barely exists.
Developing mechanism: Generally speaking, the MICE
economy centres in the Chinese mainland are government-
initiated (for example, the Central-West China Region was
formed during the course of Western Development), which
results in poor linkage and coordination among these zones.
Blind competitions frequently occur even between cities in the
same zone.
Mainland China’s Incentive Policies for MICE
Central Government’s Incentive Policies
Examination and Approval System
China formulated the Management Measures for the Examina-
tion and Approval of Holding Economic and Trade Exhibition
Figure 1.
Expos distribution in MI CE economic zones, 20082.
Abroad, and commanded that all exhibitions held in abroad be
examined and approved by CCPIT (together with Ministry of
Commerce of PRC). This policy can be summarized as “strictly
control to avoid repetitive holding of exhibitions; encouraging
joint organizing; preference to large-scale, influential, high-
quality and periodical exhibitions; preference to professional
and experienced organizers.” An economic and/or technologi-
cal exhibition by an external agency must be either jointly held
with a legal person qualified for hosting such an exhibition
within the te rritory of China or simply entr usted to such a legal
Financial Support for Market Expansion
The State Economic and Trade Commission has set up a
fund for medium-and small-scaled enterprises to explore inter-
national markets. It comes from Central Foreign Trade Devel-
opment Fund, which is divided into two parts: one for central
government and the other for local government.
Local Governments’ Incentive Policies
Positioning and Objectives of MICE Industry
There are 31 provincial-level administrative regions in
mainland China, among which 29 have identified specific ob-
jectives for MICE economy in their Eleventh Five-Year Plan.
Key MICE cities have specified the orientations and objectives
for their MICE industry. For example, Beijing positions MICE
industry as “one pillar industry of the third industry”, with an
objective “to become China’s primary city for political, cultural
and tech conventions & exhibitions as well as a key Asian city
for famous MICE brands on international trade, social envi-
ronment, tech & culture”. Shanghai positions it as “a key com-
ponent of service industry, a new industry to enhance their city
image, improve municipal services and prompt economic &
social development”. Their goal is “to become one of the key
MICE cities of Asia-Pacific region in 2010, with MICE indus-
try accounting for 0.2% of GDP”. Guangzhou positions it as
“an important part of modern service industry”, and they aim
“to be a central city for international conventions & exhibi-
tions”. In short, the first-tier MICE metropolitans (e.g. Beijing
Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen) aim to be the key MICE
cities in Asia or Asia-Pacific area; and second-tier MICE cities
(e.g. Hangzhou, Nanjing and Dalian) aim to be national or re-
gional key MICE cities. These objectives are fairly down-to-
earth, with diversified focuses so as to avoid blind competitions
to a certain extent.
Incentive Modes
Priority in Development Planning: e.g. Beijing has an-
nounced that MICE industry is one of its six key modern ser-
vice industries with high priority in its 11th five-year planning.
Hangzhou gives priority to MICE industry over economic de-
velopment and traditional tourism sectors.
Financial Support, Capital Aid or Award: The content and
modes of financial support vary from one region to another.
Some metropolitans (such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou,
Ningbo, Dongguan and Xi’an) have established exclusive funds
to support MICE industry, with incentives consolidated as mu-
nicipal financial subsidies. These exclusive funds are mainly
expended on exhibition orientations, exhibitors’ allowance, and
propaganda. Other cities only grant allowance to listed exhibi-
2Data source: WANG Fanghua, GUO Jurong (2009). Blue Book of Conven-
tion & Exhibition Economy (2009). China: Social Sciences Academic Press.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Taxation Preference: Take Shanghai for instance. Shanghai
Local Tax Bureau released Circular on Issues Regarding Levy
of Business Tax on Conference &. Exhibition Industry in
Shanghai (# 49 [2008], valid since September 1, 2008), which
ensured preferable taxation on MICE industry. For example,
it’s stipulated that for the sponsors or organizers, business tax
shall be levied on the revenue excluding (venue) rental, con-
struction fee, advertisement fee, accommodation fee, admission
and transportation fee paid to the third party.
Encouraging Personnel Training: This is practiced for such a
three-fold purpose as, first, to enhance the development of aca-
demic and vocational education, so as to improve the quality of
human resource (for instance, Beijing encourages academies to
set up MICE-related specialties at both undergraduate and
postgraduate levels; second, to launch various training pro-
grams (for example, Xi’an set up Qujiang International MICE
Training Center, and offers various MICE training programs
free of charge for the local enterprises); and third, to send some
staffs to study abroad and to introduce foreign experts, so as to
improve management skills and visions.
Preference of Incentive Policies
The key MICE cities all prefer exhibitions & conferences
that can invigorate local economy. Preference is given to the
exhibitions and conferences with following characteristics:
Coincident with Local Industrial Development Objectives:
For instance, Beijing has a preference for well-known exhibi-
tions and conferences coincident with its strategy for industrial
development and Olympic economy.
Of Well-known Brand or with Specialty: Hangzhou develops
its MICE industry toward mareketization, specialization, inter-
nationalization, and branding, advocating “comfortable life,
rich culture and successful business” and highlighting its
unique scenery and culture advantage. Shenzhen offers tempo-
rary financial aid to well-known exhibitions and conferences in
case of occasional dilemmas due to non-resistance or fierce
competitions from outside the region. Financial aids are also
provided to key projects in the initial stage, or when they fail to
reach a break-even point with enlarged scales.
With international partnership: e.g. in Beijing, MICE enter-
prises are encouraged to participate in exhibitions and confer-
ences held in developed countries or regions in order to learn
their expertise and skills. Shanghai also intensifies exchanges
and cooperation with worldwide leading organizations and
companies to seize on the latest trends in MICE industry. Spe-
cifically, Shanghai encourages world organizations, associa-
tions, cities and multi-national corporations to hold annual
meetings, forums, trade fairs and other MICE activities in
Shanghai. At the same time, the city of Shanghai takes an ac-
tive part in overseas market expansion (e.g. exhibitions in Saudi
and Indonesia are fairly successful).
Standardizing Administration, Which Incl ude s:
a) To Set Up Administrative Institutions: e.g. Shenzhen has
set up a “Convention & Exhibition Industry Development Co-
ordinating Office” to supervise the related planning and policies,
oversees state-owned venues and coordinate large-scale activi-
ties. Many efforts have been made to explore an effective ad-
ministrative system of MICE industry. For instance, Shanghai’s
Action Plan for the Development of MICE Industry suggests
that “joint-meeting system should be set up to decide the strat-
egy, planning and policy of MICE industry, and to support
coordinated problem solving.” Shenzhen’s 11th Five-Year Plan
also suggested that consultant committee should be established
to give advice on decision-making and to solve disputes.
b) To Offer Auxiliary Services: e.g. Beijing has established a
“green path” for MICE industry. It reforms administrative sys-
tem, simplifies market entry formalities, gradually restructures
its administrative system (administrative rights transferring
from multi-departments to local industrial associations) and
reforms market access control (from restrictive mode to mar-
ket-oriented mode). Xi’an has set up “Qujiang MICE Service
Center” to provide non-stop services, such as Customs declara-
tions, railway transportations, and delivery services, etc.
A Summary of Mainland China’s Incentive Policies
for MICE Industry
From the above, we can summarize mainland China’s incen-
tive policies from the following aspects:
Position of MICE Industry in National Economy
The planning of MICE industry is somehow neglected in
state-level planning—it was only mentioned in the planning of
cultural industry, which indicates that government hasn’t rec-
ognized the comprehensive influence of this industry. It was
again neglected in the Outline of China’s 11th Five-Year Plan3.
The lack of state-level planning and strategic positioning has
resulted in the weak overall control and poor coordination of
MICE industry in various regions.
Administrative Mechanism of MI CE Industry
The state hasn’t designated a unified administrative authority
for MICE industry. Local governments, venues, associations
and financial institutions all have rights to examine, and grant
approval to MICE projects, which caused serious problems of
multi-administrations and blind repetitions. Exhibitions & con-
ferences are supervised by different departments according to
their themes and regions (overseas or domestic). Take “interna-
tional exhibitions” for instance, they can be examined and ap-
proved by three departments: the Ministry of Foreign Trade and
Economic Cooperation, the Ministry of Science and Technol-
ogy and CCPIT (China Council for the Promotion of Interna-
tional Trade).
Administrative M ode of MICE Indu stry
The administrative mode of MICE industry is imprinted with
the planned economy, which is well embodied by its examining
and approving system.
Policy System of MICE Industry
In mainland China, policies and regulations of MICE indus-
try are made individually by local governments: e.g. Beijing
released Development Plans of Beijing’s MICE Industry
(2004-2008); Hangzhou released Hangzhou’s 11th Five-Year-
Plan of MICE Industry (2006-2010); Dalian released Dalian’s
11th Five-Year-Plan of MICE Industry, etc. The lack of a uni-
fied administrative authority remains a large obstacle to further
3It is the blueprint of China’s economic and social development (2006-
2010), with guiding principles and development goals for each key sector
of the nation.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 7
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Efforts to Support MICE Industry
The state’s support to MICE industry is rather limited. The
State Economic and Trade Commission’s market exploring
fund is the only state-level supportive project. Only a small part
of the fund is used to support medium-and small-scaled enter-
prises to explore international markets (exclusive to exhibition
fee, exhibition installation fee and freight charge for large ex-
Preference of Incentive Policy
Mainland China’s MICE industry is still in its initial stage.
The key MICE cities are in a period of expansion, during which
their preference is given to projects and companies of large-
scales. Take Dalian for example, its exclusive fund only fo-
cuses on the following: 1) national exhibitions and conferences
organized by ministries and commissions that would take up a
space of over 10,000 m2; 2) exhibitions and conferences jointly
organized by domestic companies and well-known foreign
counterparts and occupying a space over 10,000 m2; and 3)
specialized exhibitions with local characteristics with a history
of more than 10 successful editions, and taking up a space over
20,000 m2. All this indicates that more support is required to
help the SMEs and young enterprises in the MICE industry.
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