Tag Archives: Guangzhou

University Town: Raising the research bar

In the middle of the Pearl River flowing through Guangzhou’s Panyu district lies the Xiaoguwei Island, a 43.2 sqkm parcel of land along with its south bank that is home to 12 universities. Known as “University Town”, the collection of campuses was designed and built in the early 2000s to spur research and innovation throughout the entire province. Today it is one of the “ten cores” of the Science and Technology Innovation Corridor (STIC), the blueprint for “China’s Silicon Valley” within the overall masterplan of the Greater Bay Area.

The tertiary-institution district owes its creation to the far-sighted planning ability of provincial leaders. By the end of the 1990s, they had realized that 20 years of breakneck growth under the Reform and Opening era were running out of steam. A mismatch had developed between the needs of Guangdong’s booming manufacturing industry and the skills of its labor force. The higher-education sector had lagged the pace of change: by 1998, only 81 out of every 1,000 candidates for College Entrance Examination were able to secure places in higher education, according to southcn.com. More university places needed to be created.

The mission to solve this quandary was unveiled in 2001, with a masterplan to build a dedicated area for a cluster of universities. Construction began a year later, with an audacious goal set by the Party Secretary at the time, Zhang Dejiang, to “build the nation’s first university town”.

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GBA Briefs: 02/01

Bay-to-Bay? Various sources in San Francisco have a dim view of so-called Bay-to-Bay exchanges between the Bay Area and the Greater Bay Area. Mostly, these exchanges seem to be a case of Lost in Translation. Read more on SCMP.

Guangzhou keeps up: The provincial capital has a five-year plan for social housing, which involves giving a big chunk of it (10%) rent-free to qualified “talents”. Read more (in Chinese)

Blockchain tracks: The Shenzhen Stock Exchange has released a “Blockchain 50” index. No guesses as to what it tracks. Read more (in Chinese)

Blockchain ETF: A Shenzhen-based fund, Penghua, could be the first to list a blockchain ETF. Read more on Technode

Blockchain rolls: Guangzhou Metro has issued the first blockchain-based invoice by a metro system in China. Read more (in Chinese)

Foshan tapped: The central government has approved another 24 cities to be “pilot zones” for cross-border e-commerce, including Foshan. Read more (in Chinese)

Nansha Port Railway to open next year

The Nansha Port Railway Project, linking Jiangmen, Zhongshan, Foshan and Guangzhou, is set to open to traffic by the end of 2020, according to local media.  

The Nansha Port Railway, which will be predominantly used for cargo and is a key project within the Belt and Road Initiative, leads from the Heshan South Station of the Guangzhou-Zhuhai Railway and goes southeast through Jiangmen, Foshan, Zhongshan, and Guangzhou to Nansha Port. The length of the new line is 88.8 kilometers with a total investment of 15.2 billion yuan. It has a design speed of 120 km/h. 

Construction of the line began in 2016, and it is planned to be opened to traffic by the end of 2020. It involves one major engineering challenge, which is the main bridge across the Xijiang River, the largest spanned cable-stayed bridge in the world. 

Read more (in Chinese) 

Guangzhou South hub details released

Guangzhou unveiled today a detailed land plan for its new 1 trillion-yuan economic hub around the Guangzhou South Railway Station, with nine railway lines to be connected and a high-rise of 350 meters to be constructed. 

The “South Station Area” is being jointly developed by Guangzhou and Foshan, aimed at attracting companies from Hong Kong and Macau. In developing the “world’s best railway station”, the 36 sq km project will house s population of 335,000 and include 184 public service and municipal transportation facilities. A dozen old villages in the area will be completely renovated.  

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Mainland students flee to Shenzhen, some to campuses

As mainland students flee Hong Kong’s embattled university campuses for the safety of neighboring Shenzhen, a spotlight is being shone on the relationship between the Hong Kong universities and their affiliates across the border.

Fearing that they could become targets of the anti-government protesters who have turned their campus into a battlefield, mainland students staying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in  Sha Tin have found themselves among the more fortunate, as the university has a Shenzhen campus that opened its doors to them from late yesterday.

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Hong Kong as regional HQ: time to move?

For those who care to look, the Hong Kong protests are exposing flaws in many assumptions about Hong Kong’s competitiveness. This is not only a short-term concern, either. As revenues come under pressure, partly due to the protests, partly due to a slowing Chinese economy, operating costs are inevitably being looked at more carefully by companies based in “Asia’s World City”. It would be surprising if only a few were considering moving or scaling back their operations here.

The question is: Can other cities in the Greater Bay Area offer compelling alternatives?

The short answer would be: Yes. But do some homework first.

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Guangzhou, Foshan to build ‘trillion-plus’ zone

Guangzhou and Foshan are planning to jointly develop a new Greater Bay Area “hub” centered on the Guangzhou South Railway Station. The aim of the project is to create a cluster of new strategic industries, with input from Hong Kong and Macau, which will be valued at more than RMB 1 trillion.

The announcement of the project, which is grandly titled “South Station Area”, was made late last week but took a few days to be picked up by local media. Here are the basic facts:

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Guangzhou sees future in blockchain

The provincial capital is not often thought of as a financial center. It doesn’t have a stock exchange of its own, and financial services comprise less than one-tenth of GDP. This contrasts with Hong Kong and Shenzhen, where financial services contribute roughly twice as much (19%-20%) to GDP. Guangzhou, instead, has traditionally been known as an industrial powerhouse, dominated by state-owned enterprises in heavy industries and SMEs in export-oriented manufacturing.

Yet Guangzhou’s ambitions for developing financial services should not be underestimated. This is especially as the Nansha special economic zone is built out in the coming years (see our primer on Nansha, and its World Financial Island in Hengli). That is where a GBA International Bank is being built, and where a new Futures Exchange will be launched, initially trading carbon credits.  

Indeed, Guangzhou is showing that a city doesn’t need to have a stock exchange to make its financial sector go. And with the rise of fintech, it remains to be seen how the entire industry will be shaken up to the point where traditional financial institutions and trading platforms will matter less than they do now.

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