Guangdong raises its game [China Daily: Hong Kong Edition]
(China Daily: Hong Kong Edition Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Province moves to innovation-and consumption-driven economy
When the world's fastest supercomputer, Tianhe-2, was introduced last year to Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, many scientists and researchers believed it would help boost innovation and upgrade traditional industries in the southern province.
"Like many urban infrastructure projects such as expressways, the supercomputer will help build a driving force for construction of an innovation-oriented economy in Guangdong, which has long been labeled as one of the major manufacturing bases in the world," says Wang Jian, the president of BGI, a biotech company in Shenzhen.
The Tianhe-2, or Milkyway-2, which was developed by China's National University of Defense Technology, has a peak performance speed of 54.9 quadrillion operations a second, putting it in first place in the Top 500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers.
"Ranking first is not the only important thing," Wang says. "The supercomputer supports local companies in scientific research and management, helping them to better upgrade,"
For example, nearly 100 pharmaceutical enterprises in Guangzhou, with a combined output value of about 12 billion yuan ($1.92 billion), have high demand for pharmacological experimental data operations, Wang says.
"Advanced facilities such as the supercomputer will help these companies better conduct experiments and data analysis."
Introduction of the supercomputer represents the first of several efforts by the Guangdong government to enable its industries to move up from manufacturing to a more innovation-driven economy, Wang says.
Officials at the provincial science and technology department say Guangdong has signed a series of strategic cooperation agreements with some leading domestic science and research institutes to introduce advanced technologies to the province.
"Following the introduction of a number of high-tech projects, we have made breakthroughs in some key industrial areas," Huang Ningsheng, director of the Guangdong Science and Technology Department, told Nanfang Daily.
Guangdong, which has long led the country's economy since reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, is banking on innovation and technology to drive a new round of economic development in the years ahead, according to Zhu Xiaodan, governor of Guangdong.
"We are giving priority to the strategy of innovation-driven economic development to help us better upgrade traditional industries," Zhu says.
Guangdong's budget for research and development surpassed 140 billion yuan last year, which accounted for 2.25 percent of its economy, according to a government work report, which Zhu delivered to deputies of the Guangdong People's Congress early this year.
Guangdong also took the top place in China for the number of effective invention patents and in applications for international patents under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, signaling an improved effort by local authorities to develop an innovation-driven economy, Zhu says.
"We have also introduced a number of innovative research teams and high-end personnel," he adds.
After years of efforts to use innovation and technology to drive its economy, Guangdong realized GDP growth of 8.5 percent year-on-year in 2013. The provincial economy surpassed $1 trillion last year.
Zhu says stable and healthy economic growth was achieved last year after a series of measures were introduced to cope with the downsizing trend.
"Domestic consumption, investment and foreign trade, which are the key factors that drive economic development, were well coordinated in Guangdong last year," Zhu says.
According to Zhu, Guangdong's retail sales of consumer goods rose by 12.2 percent year-on-year to 2.54 trillion yuan last year.
"We have developed new consumption growth engines, and modern management businesses have emerged in recent years, which helped to greatly boost domestic consumption," Zhu says.
Transactions in the booming e-commerce sector in Guangdong increased by 33 percent from a year earlier to surpass 2 trillion yuan. Information consumption grew by 22 percent year-on-year to 640 billion yuan in 2013, Zhu says.
Guangdong realized a year-on-year increase of 18.3 percent to 2.28 trillion yuan in fixed assets investment in 2013, with private investment increasing by 25.8 percent.
"Investment in modern services, modern manufacturing and strategically emerging industries grew rapidly last year," Zhu says.
Guangdong's import and export value grew by 10.9 percent from year-on-year to $1.09 trillion in 2013, making the province the nation's first powerhouse, surpassing $1 trillion yuan both in regional economy and trade.
"Guangdong is still in the tough process of upgrading its economy. Like climbing a mountain, we are at a turning point but the outlook ahead is promising," Zhu says.
According to the governor, the local authorities will continue to expand domestic consumption by promoting Guangdong-made products in the rest of China this year.
The province will arrange some 285 key projects, with investment worth 450 billion yuan, to revitalize investment from private companies this year.
"We will strive to maintain stable trade growth this year by encouraging more companies to tap emerging global markets, simplify trade procedures for exporters and develop cross-border e-commerce services," Zhu says.
Along with the innovation drive, Cheng Siwei, former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, says Guangdong still faces a tough challenge to upgrade its industries.
"Following increased labor costs in recent years, labor-intensive and lower value-added industries, on which Guangdong relied heavily in the past few decades, will find no space to grow," Cheng says.
Cheng made the remarks during a recent seminar on how the economy benefits people in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong.
"Guangdong needs to introduce advanced technologies to upgrade its traditional industries and increase production efficiency," Cheng says.
At the same time, he says it is important to prioritize the new-energy industry, modern services and other cultural industries in the growth plans.
"I have visited Qianhai, Hengqin and Nansha, which play significant roles for Guangdong in industrial upgrading," he says.
Qianhai in Shenzhen, Hengqin in Zhuhai and Nansha in Guangzhou are three key areas in Guangdong that have been opened up for the service industry.
According to Guangdong government officials, the proposed free trade zone between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao will include Qianhai, Hengqin, Nansha and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, covering more than 1,300 sq km.
Guangdong's plan to establish the zone, after a similar one in Shanghai, was approved in 2013 by the State Council and has been submitted to the central government for approval.
According to the Guangdong provincial government, foreign investors will be offered pre-establishment national treatment, and a "negative list" administration mode will be introduced in the planned zone.
A pilot program to conduct offshore renminbi business will also be launched in the zone to enable liberalization of the service trade.
"Guangdong, which has a unique geographic advantage, should continue to take the lead in the country's new round of reform and opening-up by strengthening economic and trade cooperation with overseas countries and regions," Cheng says.
To facilitate its industrial upgrading, Guangdong will launch an "innovation-driven" program in the coming years to increase the budgets for technology research and for the introduction and development of top talent, according to the Guangdong provincial science and technology authorities.
Scientists say Tianhe-2, the world's fastest supercomputer introduced to Guangzhou last year, will boost Guangdong's industrial innovation. Provided to China Daily
(China Daily 05/05/2014 page17)
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