New high-tech zone is ready

Hubei cen­ter seeks stu­dents and in­vestors

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By JACK FREIFELDER in New York jack­freifelder@ chi­nadai­

Plans for a new high-tech in­dus­trial zone in China’s Hubei prov­ince are in the works, and govern­ment lead­ers of the city where it will be lo­cated are fo­cus­ing on driv­ing in­ter­est, in­vest­ment and ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for the project.

Feng Jichun, a mem­ber of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Wuhan Mu­nic­i­pal Govern­ment, said the Chi­nese Sci-Tech In­dus­trial City (CSTC) has a spe­cific fo­cus on of­fer­ing ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties in the new zone.

“The de­vel­op­ment of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy can­not suc­ceed with­out good ed­u­ca­tion,” Feng said through a trans­la­tor on Wed­nes­day dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion on the CSTC project at the China In­sti­tute in New York.

“We are try­ing to build a pri­vate univer­sity in this park … but we also want to sup­port kinder­gartens, el­e­men­tary schools and high schools. In this way we can fo­cus on ed­u­ca­tion, so that over­seas Chi­nese people will come back and can have their kids ed­u­cated like they would be in the US,” he said.

Feng also said the abil­ity to rec­on­cile the goals of mak­ing money and im­prov­ing the liveli­hood of lo­cal res­i­dents would be an im­por­tant aim for the project.

Wuhan is al­ready home to Op­ti­cal Val­ley (OV), one of three na­tional demon­stra­tion zones for in­de­pen­dent in­no­va­tion fo­cused on a num­ber of high-tech in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing pho­to­elec­tron tech­nol­ogy.

OV is China’s big­gest pho­to­elec­tron in­for­ma­tion in­dus­try base, a sci­en­tific study that probes the po­ten­tial use value of elec­tronic de­vices that de­tect, source and con­trol light as a form of re­us­able en­ergy.

CSTC, which has the po­ten­tial to ac­com­mo­date more than 1 mil­lion res­i­dents, will ex­ist as a com­ple­ment to China’s OV with op­por­tu­ni­ties for biotech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment and re­search fa­cil­i­ties, as well as space for the soft­ware and re­lated ser­vices in­dus­tries.

Feng, who is also a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive of the group in charge of the project, said he hopes univer­sity stu­dents who at­tend col­lege in the new zone will be en­cour­aged to take the ini­tia­tive to start businesses in the area.

“Over the past 10 or 20 years, the Chi­nese govern­ment has paid great at­tent ion to mak­ing a large amount of in­vest­ments in and ex­pand­ing our ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem — es­pe­cially at the univer­sity-level,” Feng said.

“I am work­ing on en­cour­ag­ing the de­vel­op­ment of busi­ness in­cu­ba­tors, which will ex­pand the job op­por­tu­ni­ties for our univer­sity grad­u­ates. If univer­sity grad­u­ates start businesses in Wuhan, they can get their businesses in our in­cu­ba­tors free of charge for three years.”

The CSTC project pre­sen­ta­tion, which also fea­tured a visit from the Wuhan Mu­nic­i­pal Govern­ment Del­e­ga­tion, was co-hosted by the China In­sti­tute and the Com­mit­tee of 100 (C-100).

C-100 is a non- prof it mem­ber­ship or­ga­ni­za­tion based in New York that seeks to en­cour­age pro­duc­tive in­ter­ac­tions be­tween the US and China, while pro­mot­ing the liveli­hood of Chi­nese Amer­i­cans.

The China In­sti­tute (CI), founded in 1926, is the old­est bi­cul­tural or­ga­ni­za­tion in Amer­ica that deals specif­i­cally with the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy. Through a se­ries of artis­tic, cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams, CI hopes to strengthen the cross-cul­tural un­der­stand­ing that ex­ists be­tween the world’s two largest economies.

David C Chang, cochair of in­ter­na­tional pro­grams for the C-100, said Feng brings an in­ter­est­ing per­spec­tive to the CSTC en­deavor.

“The Chi­nese ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem right now is not a suc­cess, mainly be­cause they are tied to the exam sys­tem,” Chang said. “Ev­ery­one is locked in by the exam sys­tem, and in [Feng’s] mind that makes this project a blank sheet of paper.”

Jerry Hultin, pres­i­dent emer­i­tus of New York Univer­sity’s Polytech­nic School of En­gi­neer­ing, said he sees the pro­gram in Wuhan as a strong de­vel­op­ment for the city. “It’s an ex­cit­ing way to go and we’ve seen things of a sim­i­lar na­ture in Suzhou,” he said. “The way [CSTC] is ap­proach­ing the K-12 and un­der­grad­u­ate ed­u­ca­tion will help bring young people in. The ben­e­fit to so­ci­ety has been enor­mous and they’ll bring the same ben­e­fit to Wuhan and cen­tral China.”

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