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 Zhubajie.com — 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.