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Expanding strategic hubs to support Belt, Road Initiative

By Hao Nan (China Daily)Updated : 2017-05-15

Shipping, aviation and high-technology are top of the transformation agenda for this provincial capital.

Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong province, is transforming from an ancient commercial city to a new international network city, supported by three strategic hubs.

Guangzhou is an important node along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. According to its development plan, the city will finish building a shipping hub by 2020, an aviation hub based at the Baiyun International Airport, and a scientific innovation hub based in its seven technological and creative zones, such as the Guangzhou Science City, Sino-Singapore Knowledge City and Pazhou Internet Innovation Zone.

"Guangzhou is establishing an open and high-level economic system. It also plans to create a more internationally competitive investment climate by strengthening industrial vitality, infrastructure construction, personnel training and innovation," said Chen Jie, head of the city's commission of commerce.


The Pearl River is the mother river of Guangzhou which was ranked No 1 of China's "cities of opportunities" in March by China Development Research Foundation and PricewaterhouseCoopers. [Photo provided to China Daily]

At roadshows held in Tokyo and Singapore in April to promote the 2017 Fortune Global Forum, Guangzhou's Vice-Mayor Cai Chaolin said that the city has now established links with more than 400 ports in over 100 countries and regions. Last year, it handled 544 million metric tons of cargo and shipped a total of 18.86 million twenty-foot equivalent units.

To date, the Baiyun airport has opened 151 international routes. It accommodated nearly 60 million passengers last year, with cargo throughput reaching 1.64 million tons. By the end of 2017, the airport will increase its international routes to 164. By 2025, the airport is expected to handle 100 million passengers annually, becoming one of the world's 10 largest airports.

Currently, two new runways and a new terminal are under construction.

Guangzhou has the second-largest number of universities and colleges in China, after Beijing, which provides a solid foundation for scientific and technological innovation, the vice-mayor said.

The city now has tech startup incubators covering a combined area of over 8 million square meters. It boasts more than 120,000 scientific innovative companies actively engaged in such industries as biomedicine, new materials, industrial robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles and 3-D printing. Of these, 2,800 were approved to be designated high-tech companies last year.

Guangzhou is developing strategic emerging industries, including new-generation information technologies, artificial intelligence and bio-pharmaceuticals. The local government said that by the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period, expenditure on scientific research and development will account for 3 percent of the city's GDP, and the number of high-tech companies will reach 6,000.

Guangzhou will host this year's Fortune Global Forum from Dec 6 to 8. Themed "Openness and Innovation: Shaping the Global Economy", the event will serve as a platform for entrepreneurs and economists across the world to discuss how to inject new vitality into global economic growth, bringing broader development space for investors powered by innovation and openness.

By the end of 2016, a total of 288 Fortune Global 500 companies had made investments in the city. Cisco Systems (China), for example, invested 20 billion yuan ($2.9 billion) in the Cisco Smart City project, aiming to build it into the largest base for internet R&D and intelligent operations outside of its headquarters in the United States.

In March, construction began on a 10.5-generation display industrial park in Guangzhou's Zengcheng district. This followed the signing of a cooperation agreement between the city government and Sakai Display Products, a subsidiary of Foxconn Technology Group, in December 2016.


A replica of East Indiaman Gotheborg, a Swedish merchant ship, visits Guangzhou in 2006, commenmorating the city's brilliant history of the ancient Maritime Silk Road. [Photo provided to China Daily]

With a total investment of 61 billion yuan, the park will produce display screens, smart TVs and electronic whiteboards when it starts operation in 2019, said Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn.

Since 2011, Guangzhou has been ranked No 1 five times on the list of Best Commercial Cities in Chinese Mainland launched by Forbes magazine.

The city was ranked No 1 of China's "cities of opportunities" in March by China Development Research Foundation and PricewaterhouseCoopers in their 2017 report. Its other honorary titles include "China's most dynamic exhibition city" and "China's most innovative city in e-commerce industry".

(China Daily 05/15/2017 page29)