‘Smartphone City’ aims high with R&D boost

One of the reasons for Dongguan having enjoyed such a strong economic performance in 2019 (GDP +7%) is because China’s smartphone industry escaped the ire of US President Donald Trump. Or, more particularly, it is why Chang’an Town, home of Vivo and OPPO, had a good year. With smartphones managing to avoid tariffs in the US-China trade war, the town’s GDP broke the 70 billion mark thanks to surging industrial output that reached 266.73 billion yuan. 

More importantly, however, 2019 will be remembered as the year these homegrown tech giants broke ground on large-scale new R&D centers in the town, pushing up fixed-asset investment by 42% to 7.44 billion yuan.

High-tech industries collectively accounted for 70% of Chang’an’s industrial output in 2019. That is a long way from the situation of less than 10 years ago, when Chang’an was known primarily as a center of low-cost electronics assembly. Last year, it had 547 National High-Tech Enterprises registered, ranking first in Dongguan, while its annual total number of patents granted was 9,100, an increase of 9.8%.

The trio of companies under the BBK Electronics group are leading the way. Vivo has already finished an expansion project at its headquarters, while Little Genius (smart watches for kids and other gadgets) has established an R&D Center, and OPPO, China’s No.1 smartphone manufacturer, began working on its large-scale new R&D center. More is to come, including a BBK Schools project, a Vivo R&D center, and a Vivo training facility. The cluster is expected to add annual output of 76.4 billion yuan to the town once fully completed.

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