Guangzhou steps up efforts to foster new growth drivers

An AI and digital economy pilot zone is speeding construction in Pazhou, a sub-district of Haizhu district in Guangzhou, April 25. Photo by Wei Jinsong, People’s Daily Online

By Luo Aihua, People’s Daily

Self-driving startup Pony.ai in Nansha district of south China’s Guangzhou city became the first company of the kind to nab licenses to test autonomous vehicles carrying passengers on Beijing’s roads on May 14.

The company marks an effort of Guangzhou in accelerating the digital economy and cultivating new growth drivers in recent years.

The increasing investment in the city against headwinds is further injecting impetus to its economic development.

On Longxue Island of Nansha district, more than 10 excavators are working at the construction site of the fourth phase of Nansha Port. With a total investment of over 20 billion yuan ($2.8 billion), the project is under intensive construction.

The port, projected to be completed and begin operation in 2021, is expected to lift the annual container throughput of Nansha Port to more than 22 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). It aims to become a sea passage for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to fully integrate into the construction of the Belt and Road.

Since this year, Guangzhou has regarded the construction of major projects as a focal point of its efforts and constantly fostered new growth drivers. The city has arranged 1,642 major projects this year with a total investment of 479.8 billion yuan. In the January-April period, 139.6 billion yuan of investment has been completed.

The city has achieved high-quality development while hedging against the negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistics show that 517 new projects were under negotiation in the city in the first quarter, and six contracts of intent were inked with a value of more than 10 billion yuan. The figures represent growth of investment against downward pressure from COVID-19.

Planning to invest nearly 1.4 trillion yuan in Guangzhou, global enterprises have showed their confidence in the city, a place where a bunch of major projects have been signed, kicked off, put into operation and planned.

The vigorous development of strategic emerging industries has become a unique advantage of Guangzhou. Within 48 hours, the nucleic acid testing kit developed by Guangzhou Hybribio Medical Laboratory Ltd. was issued a CE certification from the European Union; within two weeks, Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings Limited resumed production of chloroquine phosphate, which was included in the seventh version of the diagnosis and treatment plan for the novel coronavirus.

Prior to that, the city proactively took policy measures to propel development of all respects of the strategic emerging industries. The bioengineering and pharmaceutical industry was the first to establish a complete industrial chain covering research and development, clinical trial, commercialization, manufacturing, application and marketing of products.

The “Guangzhou speed” demonstrated by the bio-pharmaceutical enterprises in the pandemic has highlighted the strength of the city in building a complete bioengineering and pharmaceutical industry. In 2019, the added value of the city’s strategic emerging industries was up 7.5 percent on a yearly basis.

Guangzhou is also a pacemaker in 5G technology. 5G smart lamp poles have become a common scene in Yuexiu district, a center of traditional Cantonese culture, the business area in Tianhe district, and the eco-design town in Conghua district. The city has built more than 20,000 5G base stations, and is emerging as a top-notch pilot city for 5G commercialization and a demonstration city for comprehensive information consumption.

Guangzhou is striving to build itself into an innovation center for digital economy. On May 8, 73 digital new infrastructure projects were inaugurated in the city with a total investment of 180 billion yuan, including information projects such as 5G technology, Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of China’s internet giant Alibaba, and Industrial Internet; integrative programs such as 5G smart ports and building information management (BIM) +smart cities; and innovation projects such as the ecological innovation center of Chinese technology firm Huawei, and the Apollo Intelligent Driving Ecosystem of Chinese tech giant Baidu.

The projects include information projects represented by 5G technology, Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of China’s internet giant Alibaba, and Industrial Internet, integrative programs such as 5G smart ports and building information management (BIM) +smart cities, and innovation projects such as the ecological innovation center of Chinese technology firm Huawei, and the Apollo Intelligent Driving Ecosystem of Chinese tech giant Baidu.

Enterprises know best Guangzhou’s confidence and resolution in developing digital economy. China’s Internet giants Tencent and Alibaba, home appliance retailer Gome, tech giant Xiaomi, leading global video-based social media platform Joyy Inc., major online discount retailer Vipshop, and e-commerce platform Global Market Group are all accelerating construction of their projects in Guangzhou.

“Guangzhou is a favored place and a test field for the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and digital economy. It has a broad prospect in the two fields,” said Liu Nan, general manager of the strategic development division of the South China region of Alibaba Group and its affiliate Ant Financial.

Photo shows a screenshot of the website of self-driving startup Pony.ai.

Photo taken on May 10 shows a busy scene at a container wharf of Longxue Island, Nansha district, south China’s city of Guangzhou. Photo by Qiu Xinsheng/People’s Daily Online

Workers are busy welding automotive parts at a workshop of GAC Motor in Panyu district, Guangzhou, May 23. Photo by Wei Jinsong, People’s Daily Online