Navigating the Debt Storm: Strategies for Tianjin to Manage Its Burgeoning Debt Burden

Alex Lew, CFA
3 min readMay 9


The Alarming State of Tianjin’s Debt

The rising debt burden in Tianjin is a matter of grave concern, and it is critical to understand the factors contributing to this worrisome trend. Several factors have led to the escalation of debt in Tianjin, including the city’s ambitious infrastructure projects, diminishing revenue from state-owned enterprises, and the need for increased social spending. The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have further strained the local economy, exacerbating the debt problem.

A Comprehensive Debt Strategy for Tianjin

To effectively manage its debt levels, Tianjin must adopt a comprehensive debt strategy, which can be achieved through the following steps:

Thorough debt audit: Conducting a rigorous debt audit to determine the composition of Tianjin’s debt, including the principal amount, interest rates, and maturity dates, is essential for designing effective debt management policies.

Debt restructuring: Exploring the possibility of debt restructuring to achieve more favourable terms and conditions, such as lower interest rates or extended repayment periods, could provide immediate relief for Tianjin’s debt burden.

Fiscal consolidation: Implementing budgetary consolidation measures, such as reducing non-essential expenditures, optimising public investment projects, and enhancing revenue collection, can improve Tianjin’s fiscal position and create a sustainable path for debt reduction.

Developing a medium-term debt management strategy (MTDS): Establishing an MTDS that outlines the government’s objectives, targets, and strategies for managing public debt over the medium term can provide a clear framework for policymakers and ensure consistency in decision-making.

Promoting Economic Growth and Revenue Generation

In addition to managing its existing debt, Tianjin must promote economic growth and increase revenue. This can be achieved through the following initiatives:

Diversifying the economy: Expanding the city’s economic base by promoting investment in new and emerging industries, such as technology, renewable energy, and advanced manufacturing, can help to create new sources of revenue and reduce reliance on traditional sectors.

Source of Data: 2022年天津市国民经济和社会发展统计公报

Encouraging private sector participation: Fostering an environment that promotes private sector investment through regulatory reforms and business-friendly policies can stimulate economic growth and create employment opportunities.

Enhancing trade and regional integration: Pursuing trade opportunities and deepening regional integration by forging new trade agreements and participating in regional economic initiatives can open up new markets for Tianjin’s goods and services, thereby boosting its economy.

Learning from International Best Practices

As mentioned earlier, the issue of sovereign debt is common to Tianjin, and many countries worldwide are facing similar challenges. Thus, Tianjin needs to learn from the experiences of other countries and implement best practices in managing its debt levels. Some examples of international best practices include:

The United Kingdom’s Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) provides independent assessments of the country’s public finances and ensures transparency in fiscal policy.

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) promotes accountability in government spending and provides analyses, recommendations, and reports to help Congress make informed decisions.

The European Union’s Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) establishes fiscal rules and guidelines for member states to ensure sound public finances and prevent excessive government deficits.


“如何看经济转型中的天津市城投?”, 27 Mar 2023, Vzkoo,

“地方政府与城投企业债务风险研究报告:天津篇”, 08 Feb 2023, Sina

“China’s cities are on the verge of a debt crisis”, 27 Feb 2023, The Financial Times,

“工业和建筑业概况”, 天津市政府网, 17 Mar 2023,



Alex Lew, CFA