New tech trans­forms his­tor­i­cal Tongx­i­ang

Cra­dle of civ­i­liza­tion that was home to an­cient cul­tures now boasts cut­ting-edge in­dus­try

China Daily European Weekly - - Front Page - By ZHANG ZHAO zhangzhao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A bus with a strik­ing “5G” la­bel op­er­ated to and from on the high­ways of Wuzhen town­ship in Tongx­i­ang, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on Oct 29, test­ing the tech­nol­ogy that will be put into trial op­er­a­tion dur­ing the fifth World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence, which will be held in the his­tor­i­cal wa­ter town from Nov 7 to 9.

With 5G tech­nol­ogy, a user can down­load a high-def­i­ni­tion movie in just sec­onds.

New dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies aren’t just trans­form­ing Wuzhen. More than 560 projects re­lated to the dig­i­tal econ­omy have been in­tro­duced into Tongx­i­ang city since the first WIC in 2014, with to­tal planned in­vest­ment of 37.7 bil­lion yuan ($5.4 bil­lion, 4.7 bil­lion eu­ros, £4.2 bil­lion).

Sheng Yongjun, Party chief of Tongx­i­ang, says the in­ter­net con­fer­ence has a deep, all-around in­flu­ence on the city.

“It is chang­ing Tongx­i­ang not just eco­nom­i­cally, but also in terms of the lo­cal peo­ple’s way of think­ing and lifestyle,” he says. “It has be­come a new trend to learn, to em­brace and to share new things.”

For ex­am­ple, a newly built fac­tory of lo­cal cloth­ing maker Sam Fash­ion Co will soon be­gin op­er­at­ing. At the fac­tory, which cost 300 mil­lion yuan, more than 300 units of au­to­mated equip­ment are con­nected to an op­er­at­ing sys­tem, and the manager will use a smartphone to mon­i­tor op­er­a­tions and con­trol the ma­chin­ery.

More than 3,300 lo­cal com­pa­nies were served by an on­line data man­age­ment sys­tem in the first nine months of the year, al­low­ing them to re­duce costs by shar­ing in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in­fra­struc­ture and co­or­di­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion in the in­dus­try chain.

“With a smarter ‘brain’, we are more com­pet­i­tive in the mar­ket,” says Sam Fash­ion Chair­man Zhong Zhixin.

Lit­er­ally mean­ing “the town of phoenix trees”, the city of Tongx­i­ang in Zhe­jiang prov­ince gets its name from the phoenix trees that grew all over the re­gion in an­cient times. As a cra­dle of civ­i­liza­tion in the re­gions south of the Yangtze River, Tongx­i­ang was home to pre­his­toric cul­tures, such as the Ma­ji­a­bang Cul­ture of more than 7,000 years ago and the Liangzhu Cul­ture of some 5,000 years ago.

It has also been the home­town of many renowned artists, schol­ars, writ­ers and ed­u­ca­tors through­out its his­tory.

Tongx­i­ang has been a rich place by the Grand Canal for a mil­len­nium or so, and to­day boasts a highly de­vel­oped pri­vate econ­omy. Home to 11 listed com­pa­nies, it is among the na­tion’s top 100 coun­ties in terms of its eco­nomic ca­pac­ity. A num­ber of lo­cal com­pa­nies, such as Jeamo Mo­tor and Dou­ble Ar­row Rub­ber, have be­come do­mes­tic and even world in­dus­try lead­ers. Tongkun Group and Zhen­shi Hold­ing Group

were listed as China’s top 500 pri­vately owned com­pa­nies last year.

Though not a pro­duc­ing re­gion for wool or leather, Tongx­i­ang is a na­tion­ally renowned trad­ing cen­ter for sweaters and fur cloth­ing. While with­out rich min­eral re­sources, it is home to China Jushi Co, the world’s largest fiber­glass pro­ducer, and Huayou Cobalt Co — the world’s top cobalt prod­uct maker. Ad­di­tion­ally, it is also a pro­duc­tion cen­ter for women’s shoes and silk quilts.

Tourism is an­other pil­lar in­dus­try for Tongx­i­ang, with the his­tor­i­cal wa­ter town Wuzhen tak­ing the lead. Last year, Tongx­i­ang re­ceived more than 20.3 mil­lion tourist trips, gen­er­at­ing rev­enue of 24.4 bil­lion yuan ($3.5 bil­lion, 3.1 eu­ros, £2.7 bil­lion).

The in­ter­net in­fra­struc­ture in Tongx­i­ang is one of the best in China. It has Wi-Fi ac­cess cov­er­ing nearly all its pub­lic ar­eas. The town of Wuzhen, in Tongx­i­ang, be­came the per­ma­nent venue of the World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence in 2014, and since then, Tongx­i­ang has in­tro­duced 481 projects re­lated to the dig­i­tal econ­omy.

Tongx­i­ang ranks No 5 among China’s top 100 e-com­merce coun­ties with an­nual trad­ing vol­ume on e-com­merce plat­forms ex­ceed­ing 70 bil­lion yuan. More­over, Tongx­i­ang is con­sid­ered by many to be a na­tional model be­cause of its so­cial har­mony and as a leader of ur­ban­rural in­te­grated de­vel­op­ment. Its ur­ban-ru­ral in­come ra­tio is 1.63, the low­est in Zhe­jiang prov­ince. Of­fi­cials say that in the near fu­ture, the Tongx­i­ang gov­ern­ment will push forward with the de­vel­op­ment of its real econ­omy, cen­ter­ing on ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing, tourism

and in­ter­net-re­lated in­dus­tries. The gov­ern­ment is car­ry­ing out a series of strate­gies fo­cus­ing on the de­vel­op­ment of its real econ­omy, in­no­va­tion, its open­ing-up, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and im­prove­ment of peo­ple’s liv­ing con­di­tions — as well as at­tract­ing in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ments to build it­self up as a hub of ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing, a cul­tural and tourist at­trac­tion and an in­ter­net-based smart city.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

A bird’s-eye view of the Wuzhen In­ter­net In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence & Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­ter.

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