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Lenovo, Baidu among heavyweights expanding presence in Southwest China

Updated: 2020-10-14

By Ma Si, China Daily

Lenovo, Baidu among heavyweights expanding presence in Southwest China

Visitors check out exhibits at the Lenovo exhibition booth on the second day of the 2019 Smart China Expo in Chongqing on Aug 27, 2019. [Photo/China Daily]

Chinese tech giant Lenovo Group Ltd is stepping up its push to tap into emerging high-technology opportunities in the nation's southwestern region via its 5G headquarters in Chongqing.

Wei Jianqiang, vice-president of Lenovo, said: "Southwest China is a new standout on the map of China's smart technology industry."

The region has a wealth of scientific and technological talent, a favorable policy environment and a sound industrial foundation.

"All these factors provide a large number of potential industrial application scenarios for cutting-edge technologies such as 5G, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence," Wei said.

Wei's comments came after Lenovo announced last year that it would invest 5 billion yuan ($741.3 million) to build its 5G headquarters for the convergence of cloud and network technologies in Chongqing.

Lenovo's expanding 5G headquarters, located in Chongqing's Liangjiang New Area, functions as a center for 5G communications, R&D, delivery and exhibitions.

Lenovo is introducing upstream and downstream companies within its industrial chain to Liangjiang, which will help complete Liangjiang's smart industrial chain and promote Chongqing's 5G industry's access to internationally advanced technologies.

Wei said the Chongqing project is part of Lenovo's broader efforts to empower the intelligent transformation of advantageous industries in the southwestern region such as tourism and manufacturing, and to help local governments develop a "smart economy".

Lenovo's Chongqing unit has already inked partnerships with a string of local manufacturing companies to help them embrace digital transformation.

It has also used 5G technologies to help Lijiang, an ancient town in Southwest China's Yunnan province, to enable smart tourism.

"Under the strategic opportunity of the 'dual circulation' pattern, the construction of a smart economy in Southwest China will certainly play a more significant role in promoting domestic industrial upgrade, expanding domestic demand and boosting consumption," Wei said.

China put forward the dual-circulation development pattern earlier this year, whereby internal economic circulation is the mainstay while the domestic and external markets complement each other.

Analysts said the new development pattern has marked a strategic shift in China's policymaking and is expected to serve as a policy framework for the upcoming 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).

Within such a context, Chongqing, as the gateway to Southwest China and a major industrial base, will play a bigger role in boosting the country's economic growth, analysts said.

It has one of the world's largest IT industrial clusters and is one of China's biggest auto manufacturing bases.

Chongqing aims to build itself into a renowned smart city and a smart manufacturing powerhouse.

The Chongqing municipal government, for instance, aims to be a pioneer in promoting the application of blockchain technology as the municipality scrambles to cultivate an industrial cluster for companies that work in the cutting-edge sector.

Lyu Hongqing, an official with the Chongqing municipal administration for big data application and development, said the city has established China's first industrial innovation base for blockchain technology in its Yuzhong district, and the base has already attracted 40 companies, including local startups like Jinvovo Technology and tech heavyweights including Inspur.

"We are also in discussions with more than 30 blockchain companies to attract them to settle down in Chongqing," Lyu said.

Lyu added that these companies have pushed forward the application of blockchain in areas such as finance and e-governance.

Lyu said one of Chongqing's edges in cultivating the blockchain industry lies in its burgeoning digital economy.

In the first half, the market size of Chongqing's digital economy grew 15.6 percent year-on-year, despite the COVID-19 outbreak.

In addition to 5G and blockchain companies, Chinese AI heavyweight Baidu Inc is also expanding its presence in Chongqing.

In September, Baidu partnered with Chongqing's Yongchuan district and opened the Western Autonomous Driving Open Test Base.

The level-4 self-driving minibus jointly developed by Baidu and King Long debuted in Yongchuan on Sept 17, indicating that the first self-driving bus line in the region will soon be operational, Baidu said.

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