Zhuhai announced today its new masterplan for technological development, an ambitious blueprint that aims to transform the once-sleepy fishing village on the western side of the Greater Bay Area into a tech powerhouse. At the same time, details were released of Macau’s new Greater Bay Area Fund, which will raise 100 billion yuan initially and is focused on creating a southern version of Beijing’s futuristic Xiongan New District in the southern area of Hengqin, the special zone facing Macau’s casinos in Cotai.
According to a news release from the Zhuhai government, quoted by Nanfang Daily, the new tech policy is aimed at drawing a “road map” for the city to join the Greater Bay Area’s bigger project of becoming a globally competitive science and technology innovation hub.
Passengers taking the high-speed railway between Guangzhou and Hong Kong will soon be in for a treat. Before the next Spring Festival (known to foreigners as Chinese New Year), the train journey will be experienced almost entirely on a 5G network.
Kunpeng, the new ARM-based server chips being developed by Huawei Technologies, is getting a RMB3 billion ($436 million) capital injection over the next five years. The aim is to build an entire “computing ecosystem” for the new microchips.
Xu Zhijun, Huawei’s rotating chairman, said the investment will be used to bolster the company’s IT infrastructure related to Kunpeng and encourage the development of applications based on the processors. An “online community” is being established to offer developers tools, open-source operating systems, and access to related projects.
Guangzhou will begin offering courses in artificial intelligence to primary and middle school students in the next academic year, beginning in September. The city government plan envisages that by 2022, all schools in the city will have AI courses in their regular curriculum to help train and nurture AI talent for the city.
Alibaba has filed confidentially for a Hong Kong listing, moving closer to what is potentially the city’s biggest share sale since 2010, according to Bloomberg. The offering from China’s largest corporation could raise as much as US$20 billion to rival AIA Group’s 2010 IPO, reports the news agency.
A deal that size could bolster Hong Kong’s status as a destination for Chinese tech listings and boost the online retailer’s cash pile as it wages a costly war of subsidies in food delivery and travel with the competitor Meituan Dianping.
Guangdong’s economy is holding up amid the US-China trade war, although the worst effects of the most recent tariffs and blacklisting actions have not yet shown up in official statistics. In the four months to the end of April – just before the trade conflict went from genteel to gloves-off – GDP growth came in at 6.6% YoY, no change from the January-March quarter. This was despite near-stagnant growth in foreign trade, up just 0.8%. Retail sales (+6.7%) and industrial output (+5.1%) stayed steady, but it was the fourth pillar of the economy that kept growth from being weighed down by weak trade: fixed-asset investment was up 11%.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, investment in infrastructure is surging: up 27.3%. That is twice the growth rate of investment in real-estate (+13.3%). Yet while Guangdong is building more roads, ports, and railways (+34%), it is also investing in longer-term projects as well: water production and supply investment doubled (+100%), while ecological protection and environmental management investment increased by 288.8% (no, that is not a ‘lucky’ typo).
Consumers, meanwhile, are showing no signs of going weak at the knees. While sales of communications equipment continued to grow strongly at +15.1% (we will never give up our smart devices), the fastest-growing sector was Chinese and Western medicines, which jumped 18.9%. The authors of the statistical bulletin at the provincial government helpfully pointed out that, “The vigorous development of smart medical care, which is integrated online and offline, has led to a rapid increase in offline physical pharmacies.” WeDoctor, we assume?
Underneath all this remains a foundation that is our biggest source of confidence for Guangdong, and the Greater Bay Area it propels: private-sector participation in the economy continues to grow, with the tech sector in the vanguard. State-owned enterprises chipped in at +3.5%, but private enterprises fueled growth at +8.6%. Technology-intensive industries were up +9.3%.
HSBC plans to add more than 1,000 jobs this year at its technology development centers in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xi’an, reports Reuters.
HSBC’s expansion plan in China, a key market for the bank, comes amid growing use of technology in the financial sector – from payments to transactions. At stake is a bigger share of the billions of dollars worth of retail and corporate banking business in a major financial market with a growing customer base.
About 30% of the work done at the Guangzhou center, the largest HSBC tech facility in China with more than 5,000 employees, is for the mainland market and that share is expected to grow over the next couple of years.
China’s top technology show will focus this year on innovation within the Greater Bay Area, organizers said. Over 3,000 exhibitors from more than 100 countries and regions are expected to come to the event in Shenzhen in November and organizers said this year’s event, the 21st, will highlight advanced products and technology in fields such as energy conservation, environmental protection, photoelectric displays, smart cities, smart manufacturing and aerospace.
The CHTF will also be on the road, holding overseas exhibitions in Ireland, Serbia and Croatia in June this year.
The Shenzhen Cyberspace Laboratory has teamed up with the National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen to build three large-scale projects focused on AI. According to the laboratory, the first, “Cloud Brain” will build a nationwide distributed artificial intelligence infrastructure; the second, “Target Range” will focus on cyber-security; the third, Cloud Net, is a network emulation platform.
One of four approved by Guangdong provincial authorities, the lab opened in Shenzhen’s Nanshan District last year. One of its goals is to promote the establishment of an international center for scientific and technological innovation in the Greater Bay Area.
Sinovation Ventures, the tech investment firm founded by former Google China head Lee Kaifu, says it will team up with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) to build a new AI research lab, according to Technode.
The new Computer Perception and Intelligent Control Lab will be led by former Tencent AI Lab chief Zhang Tong, who is currently a faculty member at HKUST. The Stanford-trained AI scientist was previously a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and had also worked at IBM, Yahoo and Baidu before joining Tencent.