Tianjin is one of the cradles of China's modern industry. Since the 19th Century, a large number of industrialists with a desire to offer service to China came to Tianjin and built shipyards, spinning mills and other national industries. In modern times different trades flourished, including soda ash, machinery assembly, electronics, metallurgy, cement, petrochemicals etc., all of which has laid a sound foundation for industry in Tianjin. China's first wristwatch, first bicycle and first TV set were produced in Tianjin. Since the 1980s, modern high-tech industries such as the automobile industry and bio-engineering began to settle in Tianjin and thus formed a varied community of modern industries.
Tianjin is a major comprehensive industrial base in northern China. It has over 150 lines of industry consisting primarily of electronics, automobile, metallurgy, pharmaceuticals, textiles, chemicals and mechanics. With strong industrial supportive abilities, Tianjin enjoys good conditions for sustainable and rapid development of industries. The Tianjin Government is active in encouraging overseas investors to come to Tianjin for cooperation in all forms. Of the approved overseas-funded enterprises, 56.7% are in the industrial sector. Many internationally renowned multinational corporations have invested and built factories in Tianjin, including Motorola, Toyota, Novo Nordisk, Sumsung, LG and others. As a result of many years' search and reform, a strategy of developing secondary industry as the city's mainstay; supported by primary industry and significant efforts to boost the tertiary sector have become Tianjin's target.
Tianjin has given a high priority to the development of the high-tech industry. In 1998, the "Tianjin High-Tech Industry Development Program" was created and a seried of cohesive measures issued. Electronic information, bio-pharmaceutical engineering, new energy and new materials programs have been defined. Exchanges and cooperation on the promotion of ISO14000 with Germany, USA, Great Britain, Canada, Japan and Sweden have seen significant progress. The output value of the high-tech sector reached 58.7 billion RMB in 1999 and became a new economic growth area for Tianjin.