Inside China’s ‘Big Data Valley’: the Rapid Hi-Tech Transformation of Guiyang

The Guardian
While China’s growth has generally been powered by top tier eastern cities, Guizhou posted the third-fastest economic growth among China’s 31 provinces last year, and Guiyang was ranked as best performing city in 2016 by the Milken Institute. “If you have missed the investment opportunity in Guangdong or Zhejiang 30 years ago, by no means should you miss that of Guizhou today,” China’s tech poster child Jack Ma proclaimed.

An hour’s drive out of Guiyang is Gui An New District, a 1,795 sq km suburb designated as the strategic heart of Guiyang’s technology aspirations. A new Foxconn plant is among the first to open here, packed with hundreds of young employees brandishing smartphones and ID tags. The centre sits beside a newly built road lined with cars and bicycles in a newly built industrial park – Gui An’s public transport has yet to be built.

While Foxconn is among the first to arrive, more are coming. Tax incentives, state support and lower costs have helped draw companies including Microsoft, Huawei, Hyundai Motor, Tencent, Qualcomm and Alibaba to Guiyang. A partnership with India’s NIIT for a Professional College of Electronics has been agreed, and a Chinese-UK data park of 30 companies will jointly develop health technology. Several British universities are exploring Guiyang-based collaborations. The government has projected that investment into Gui An will increase by 11% to $3.34bn (£2.6bn) this year, and create 30,000 jobs.

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