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Guizhou aims to become big data hub

By Gao Yuan| China Daily|Updated: March 3, 2014

Southwest China's Guizhou province is eyeing big data industry to beef up its lagging economy, local officials said on Saturday.

They believe the cutting-edge technology would give a new driver to one of the least developed regions in the country.

"Big data industry is a big opportunity for us to add jobs, build new economic boosters and build a technology-strong Guizhou," said Chen Min'er, governor of Guizhou.

The province's cool climate, sufficient power supply and transportation networks are advantages to lure data centers and cloud computing projects, he said.

Zhao Kezhi (second left), Party chief of Guizhou province, talks with Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn Technology Group, at a promotional event focusing on the province's big data industry in Beijing on Saturday.FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY

"We hope the data analytical business will help lift people's personal income in the coming years," Chen said.

Guizhou is one of the lowest-ranked provincial regions, both in terms of gross domestic product and GDP per capita.

The province's individual disposable income in urban areas stood at 18,700 yuan ($3,100) in 2012, well below the national average of 24,564 yuan, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The mountain-locked province has recently announced plans to connect all its counties with highway networks by the end of next year.

However, government officials from Guizhou said the province plans to build the country's "top tier" cloud computing hub by 2020.

"Guizhou has no history of developing big data industry, and the infrastructures are lagging behind eastern provinces," said Wu Hequan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

"Guizhou is betting on big data bringing the region more lower-stream businesses and services that are important for its development. It is possible for the region to leapfrog, economically taking advantage of big data industry," Wu said.

The nation's three leading telecommunication carriers are building cloud computing facilities in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou, with accumulated investment of more than 15 billion yuan.

The city's government said it will set up a number of cloud-based services, including intelligent transportation, logistics, tourism, e-commerce and food security.

"Big data is becoming a new strategically important technology for China," said Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei.

"China is ready to further develop big data industry because of the quick implementation of cloud in the Internet market," Miao said. Because Guizhou's urbanization and industrialization processes are at a high time, Miao added, timing could be good for introducing big data projects to accelerate the province's growth.

Turnover of data analytics-related businesses in Guiyang is projected to hit 54 billion yuan by 2016, according to a local government estimate.

The amount represents about 30 percent of the total output of the city's information technology industry.

About 200 big data companies will be located in the city because of lower taxes and electricity prices.

But according to Jack Ma, chairman of the world's largest e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the advantage of Guizhou is not cheap electricity.

"Future competition in the Internet sector is how far can you see rather than how cheap your energies are," said Ma.

"Data economy is the future of information technology. As one of the first regions to develop cloud and big data businesses, Guizhou edges other regions in talent recruiting," he said.

Guiyang said it will lure more than 5,000 people into the big data sector over the next three years.