Few people outside of China know Foshan, a city of 7 million located at the heart of the Pearl River Delta in southern China.

This vibrant and economically progressive city — which Foreign Policy and the McKinsey Global Institute ranked last year as the world's 13th most dynamic city, based on its projected GDP increase from 2010 to 2025 — embodies China's quest for a high-value-added, high-income economy.

With this in mind, about 18 months ago, a team of researchers (including us) launched a case study on Foshan. The city stood out, because its experience exemplifies China's progress over the last 35 years — as well as the structural challenges that the country now faces.