Shadow Li

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FOCUS - Con­tact the writer at stushadow@chi­nadai­

The sprawl­ing south­west­ern mega­lopo­lis of Chongqing re­sem­bles Hong Kong in many ways. Lo­cated at the point where the Yangtze and Jial­ing Rivers con­verge, Chongqing is criss­crossed by rivers and moun­tains with steep slopes and is one of the Chi­nese main­land’s four mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties di­rectly un­der the cen­tral govern­ment, as well as the coun­try’s largest in­land me­trop­o­lis. It boasts breath­tak­ing night views that are said to be com­pa­ra­ble to Hong Kong’s fa­mous Vic­to­ria Har­bour.

Among their dis­tinct sim­i­lar­i­ties, the most striking is that both the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion and Chongqing mu­nic­i­pal­ity were born in the same year — 1997. As Hong Kong marks the 20th anniversary of its re­turn to the moth­er­land this year, 2017 is also an im­por­tant mile­stone for Chongqing, which be­came a mu­nic­i­pal­ity two decades ago.

The two cities’ des­tinies have since been in­ter­twined. The re­la­tion­ship evolved in 2003 with the sign­ing of the Closer Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship Ar­range­ment (CEPA) — the first ever free-trade agree­ment con­cluded be­tween the main­land and Hong Kong.

Un­der CEPA , the eco­nomic ties be­tween Hong Kong and Chongqing have blos­somed. By Fe­bru­ary, 2,842 Hong Kong in­vest­ment projects had been ap­proved in Chongqing, tak­ing up 60 per­cent of the in­land city’s over­seas di­rect in­vest­ments.

The SAR is also the big­gest source of over­seas di­rect in­vest­ments for Chongqing, with in­vest­ments cov­er­ing the ho­tel, man­u­fac­tur­ing, restau­rant, prop­erty and fi­nance in­dus­tries. In ad­di­tion, Hong Kong is Chongqing’s third-largest trad­ing part­ner and ex­port mar­ket.

Chongqing is a house­hold name in China. The me­trop­o­lis, cov­er­ing 82,300 square kilo­me­ters, is the na­tion’s fourth top-level mu­nic­i­pal­ity af­ter Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Tian­jin, and was the fron­trun­ner in GDP growth from 2013 to 2015.

The recipe for Chongqing’s longs t a n d i n g av e r a g e tw o - d i g i t G D P growth rate is no se­cret. In­land cities in western China have formed an eco­nomic en­gine with big cities like Chongqing at the core. An­other key in­gre­di­ent is the ad­vance­ment in in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy.

Tang Liangzhi, deputy Party sec­re­tary of Chongqing mu­nic­i­pal­ity, said the city is poised as a strate­gic strong­hold for the de­vel­op­ment of western China, lo­cated at a key junc­tion of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Zone.

In the first quar­ter of this year alone, Chongqing had posted 10.5-per­cent growth in GDP.

“I’m very con­fi­dent that Chongqing will keep de­vel­op­ing at this rate in fu­ture. A city can’t achieve all but, if we unite as one, we can man­age to do all,” stressed Tang.

He said Chongqing will be a piv­otal point, link­ing and lev­er­ing up all of western China’s ma­jor cities, in­clud­ing Chengdu, the cap­i­tal of Sichuan prov­ince; Guiyang, the cap­i­tal city of Guizhou prov­ince; and the Yun­nan pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal of Kun­ming, with its un­ceas­ing in­vest­ments in in­fras­truc- ture such as rail­ways, high-speed rail links and air­ports.

By boost­ing its in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy sec­tor to form a new growth en­gine for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, Chongqing’s en­deavor to re­struc­ture its econ­omy has proved to be a suc­cess, and the strat­egy has served as a model for many other main­land cities.

Chongqing has set aside a new area of 1,205 square kilo­me­ters — the size of Hong Kong — to build the Liangjiang New Area that com­bines parts of Jiang­bei District, Yubei District and the Beibei District in build­ing a Statelevel in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy park in 2010.

The new area is the first na­tional de­vel­op­ment and open­ing-up zone lo­cated in the in­land area, and the third na­tion­wide, fol­low­ing the Shang­hai Pudong New Area and the Tian­jin Bin­hai New Area.

The ef­fort has paid off, with more than 10,000 tal­ents now work­ing at more than 300 in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy mi­cro-en­ter­prises and 50 prom­i­nent tech groups, in­clud­ing in­ter­net giants Ten­cent and Zhuba­ — the coun­try’s largest plat­form for on­line cre­ative ser­vices.

Chongqing has fur­ther in­vested 800 mil­lion yuan ($118 mil­lion) in build­ing the Chongqing In­ter­net In­sti­tute — China’s first com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter for in­ter­net skills with the aim of nur­tur­ing a tal­ents pool for in­dus­trial re­struc­tur­ing.

Chongqing Zhuba­jie Net­work Tech­nol­ogy Co Ltd, which runs Zhuba­jie. com, was a lo­cal startup. It’s a suc­cess­ful ex­am­ple of the city’s ris­ing in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy field. The com­pany, es­tab­lished in 2006, has grown into a large in­ter­net-based plat­form with daily trad­ing rev­enue ex­ceed­ing 35 mil­lion yuan. With an es­ti­mated value of 11 bil­lion yuan, the com­pany pro­vides out­sourced cre­ative ser­vices for mil­lions of mi­cro-en­ter­prises.

Cloud Walk Tech­nol­ogy Co — a ris­ing star in fa­cial recog­ni­tion world­wide since it was es­tab­lished in 2015 — has set up re­search and de­vel­op­ment (R&D) cen­ters in Chongqing and Chengdu, two of its three ma­jor R&D labs. The com­pany com­mands a 30-per­cent mar­ket share of the coun­try’s fa­cial recog­ni­tion in­dus­try, with part­ners com­ing from the bank­ing and se­cu­ri­ties sec­tors. Among its clients is the Guang­dong pro­vin­cial Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Depart­ment.

In real es­tate, Chongqing’s home­grown en­ter­prise Jinke Proper ty Group Co strives for a smart tech-based man­age­ment. Re­liant on big data to man­age its es­tates, the de­vel­oper and prop­erty man­ager has com­bined real es­tate and re­lated ser­vices to bet­ter serve its prop­erty own­ers.

The city has not ne­glected its on­cead­vanced car man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try ei­ther. The sec­tor has seen sta­ble growth and, with a fully-fledged in­dus­trial chain, the in­dus­try is seek­ing to in­cor­po­rate cre­ative and cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy to de­velop the busi­ness.

Changan Au­to­mo­bile — a pop­u­lar Chi­nese car brand — has be­gun re­search in au­topi­lot tech­nol­ogy and go­ing green. One of Changan’s self­de­vel­oped au­topi­lot cars has set a record by cruis­ing 2,000 kilo­me­ters — the long­est dis­tance ever trav­eled by a driver­less ve­hi­cle.


Night view of Chongqing, which is said to ri­val Hong Kong’s Vic­to­ria Har­bour, at­tracts a lot of tourists.

A group of Hong Kong media staff visit the Chongqing In­ter­net In­sti­tute, China’s first com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter for in­ter­net skills.

Tang Liangzhi (right), deputy Party sec­re­tary of Chongqing mu­nic­i­pal­ity, meets Hong Kong media rep­re­sen­ta­tives dur­ing their visit last month.

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