Guizhou in Southwest China used to be one of the most undeveloped regions in the country. But things have changed in recent years and the province’s economy has been soaring. Its GDP growth ranked third in the country in 2015, jumped to second place the following year, and topped the list in 2017 with growth of 10.1%.
In just a few years, major advances have been made in a number of high-tech sectors that are helping to drive the transformation of the province. Despite its highland and mountainous landscape, Guizhou’s advantages as a location include its stable geological environment, cool weather as well as sufficient water and electricity resources.
To explore the latest advances in Guizhou, China Committee Chairman Petrina Tam led a 24-member delegation to visit the province from 18 to 20 July.
Big data centre
Playing a significant role in Guizhou’s change of fortunes is big data. The province has become a hub for the sector in the Mainland, attracting global giants like Tencent, Huawei, Apple, Alibaba and Google to set up big data centres and regional headquarters.
Huang Zhujun, Vice Director General of the Department of Commerce of Guizhou Province, explained that the big data sector has developed rapidly in the province since 2014.
“Guizhou, as the Mainland’s first comprehensive big data pilot zone, is currently home to more than 8,900 big data enterprises, with the size of the industry exceeding 110 billion yuan (HK$126 billion),” Huang said.
He added that the provincial government has also consolidated data from all local government departments with a view to enhancing government efficiency and public service quality through a service platform, known as Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Development.
Huang also pointed out that while the growth of big data in Guizhou is in full swing, the sector is facing the problem of a shortage of talent. Although the province has launched various preferential funding policies to attract high-end talent, the manpower shortage remains a constraint on the development of the sector in the short term.
He hopes that people in Hong Kong will become more aware of the recent developments in Guizhou and the many opportunities that have been created as a result.
The Eye of Heaven
Big data is not the only advanced technology where Guizhou is leading the way. China’s Eye of Heaven telescope has attracted worldwide attention since its launch in Guizhou in 2016. Besides being a key hub for astronomy research and space exploration, the telescope has also boosted related industries and local employment, particularly in the development of popular science education and tourism.
During the trip, the Chamber delegates had the opportunity to take a close look at the giant dish. Officially known as the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, the Eye of Heaven is the world’s largest single-aperture radio telescope with a receiving area equivalent to about 30 standard football fields. According to the guide, the Eye of Heaven has discovered 51 pulsar candidates so far, 11 of which have been confirmed as new pulsars.
A province transformed
The Chamber last organized a mission to Guizhou five years ago, and the visitors were impressed by the changes that have been made in such a short space of time.
“Back then, we learnt that Guizhou was still finding its way for future development,” Tam said of her previous visit. “However, we can feel the tremendous changes that have taken place in the region this time, with a clear direction for development. Riding on the big data sector, other areas of high technology and tourism have also made progress.”
This is also creating opportunities for investors and businesses, she added. “It is the right time to enhance cooperation between Hong Kong enterprises and Guizhou.”
Members also visited the Hua Guo Yuan area of Guiyang, which was transformed from shanty towns and was the largest urban redevelopment project in Asia while it was under construction. This former slum area now accommodates a population of almost 400,000 people in a complex that also includes commercial, hotel and tourism facilities.
After watching an information film about the project, the Chamber delegates were amazed to see the transformation that has taken place. “It is truly impressive and inspiring to see how a slum area was successfully redeveloped into a large-scale complex in just a few years,” said Harrison Ho, Vice Chairman of the Chamber’s Financial and Treasury Services Committee.
During the mission, the Chamber delegates also called on Lu Yongzheng, Vice Governor of Guizhou Province, and Chen Li, Director of The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of Guizhou Province. With the assistance of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Chengdu, the visitors also had the opportunity to exchange views with representatives from a number of Hong Kong businesses operating in Guizhou.