Premier Li’s visit to China's Data Valley shows emphasis on tech-powered economic upgrading
Published: Jul 08, 2020 11:38 PM

A Chinese security guard walks past the Big Data research center in Guiyang, capital of Southwest China's Guizhou Province. File photo: VCG

The visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to a big data center in Southwest China's Guizhou Province shows the government's emphasis on developing the data industry while the country is ramping up efforts to develop the "new infrastructure" projects.

"This is a Fairy Cave. You should dig out the gold mine. No, you should dig out the diamond mine," Li said after visiting Tencent's big data center in Guian, in Guizhou Province Tuesday - the first data center in China with its core equipment installed in a cave.

The premier's visit is being closely watched by investors in the Chinese A-share market. On Wednesday, shares in domestic software firms posted a gain of 5.07 percent while those in big data rose 3.38 percent. 

"The diamond mine metaphor from Premier Li means that China's economic upgrade will be led by the digital economy with the support of big data working as a cheap input element," Liu Gang, director of the Nankai Institute of Economics and chief economist at the Chinese Institute of New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Strategies, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Big data development is able to realize sustainable economic development and at the same time protect the environment, and to solve social problems such as unemployment, Liu noted, citing an example of an Uber-type service provider for trucks that Guiyang Huochebang Technology Co has deployed using logistics data to better manage truck drivers' time. 

Due to the suitable climate and geographical conditions, together with favorable electricity price policies, Guizhou has attracted world-leading tech companies to set up data centers in the region, which used to be one of the most impoverished provinces in China but now is known as the home of "China's Data Valley."

Mu Qilin, deputy general manager of the Guiyang-based CETC Big Data Research Institute Co, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the growth contributed by the big data-powered digital economy in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou, has reached more than 20 percent in recent years. 

"Our company has grown from a small team with 30 employees in 2017 to a company with about 230 people, thanks to the local support policies for the big data industry," Mu said.

More than 200 foreign and Chinese companies, including Apple, Dell, Google, Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei, have brought big data projects to Guiyang city, capital of Guizhou Province.

Taking advantage of the mountainous environment which can provide natural physical isolation, Tencent's data center in Guian is the first commercial data center with a super high level of protection in China, Tencent told the Global Times. 

After the social media and gaming behemoth announced in May it would invest 500 billion yuan ($70 billion) in new infrastructure-related projects over the next five years, it rolled out ambitious projects in cloud computing by starting the construction of two big data centers in Shanghai and Tianjin. 

Alibaba Group invested 15 billion yuan on a cloud computing data center in Nantong, East China's Jiangsu Province. Short video platform Kuaishou also built a data center in the remote city of Ulanqab in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. 

Wei Zimin, co-founder of Big Data Digest, noted that data centers are the cornerstone of China's future computing power, which is on the verge of being tested as 5G rollout shifts into fast gear with the landing of many new applications, including virtual reality and ultrahigh definition videos in the near future.

"The renewed emphasis on the importance of data center is both out of practical needs as well as plans for the future," Wei told the Global Times Wednesday. 

"With the participation of big internet firms such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, the gap in the data center field with the US, which leads the world in the area, has been gradually narrowed," Wei said, adding that US companies still have the edge in the use of clean energy, power supply, intelligent monitoring and maintenance over their Chinese peers.

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