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16th Asian Games> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: November 18, 2010 NO. 46 NOVEMBER 18, 2010
Science and Technology Eden
Guangdong's leading tech innovation and manufacturing park is transforming itself to propel the regional economy

A PLACE OF PIONEERS: A glimpse of the Dongguan Songshan Lake Science and Technology Park, one of the country's pioneering industrial parks (COURTESY OF SONGSHAN LAKE PARK)

Dongguan Songshan Lake Science and Technology Industry Park is a paradise for innovation and green tech development. The tech center, one of China's pioneering industrial parks, sits in the geometric center of Dongguan, Guangdong Province, with an area of 72 square km and a freshwater lake. Aside from the park's natural beauty and superior ecological environment, Songshan Lake just got a status upgrade—it's now a state-level hi-tech industrial park, which enjoys more preferential policies.

Songshan Lake will play a vital role in the Pearl River Delta's—and perhaps even China's—transformation from a low-tech industrial base to a hi-tech one.

The science and tech park was established in November 2001 by the Guangdong Provincial Government. With ample natural surroundings, the park is an exemplary region to experiment with new economic development and technological innovations pertaining to the green movement. After years of progress, the park has created a strong economy for itself that has also spilled over into Dongguan and the entire Pearl Delta region.

The park stands out among China's tech centers due to its R&D capacity. The Guangdong Electronics Industry Institute situated in the park, one of the largest institute-local government cooperation programs in Guangdong. The institute was the product of combined efforts of the Institute of Computing Technology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Science and Technology Department of Guangdong Province and the Dongguan Municipal Government. The institute's responsibilities include promoting independent innovation, exploring new modes of applicable and open scientific research, and supporting the electronics industry's development in Dongguan and the surrounding areas.

In 2007, Huawei, the Shenzhen-based world leading telecommunication equipment maker, invested 4 billion yuan ($599 million) to set up a 500,000-square-meter base in Songshan Lake Park. The base accounts for two thirds of Huawei's overall output. Besides, Huawei's new base has created a radiating effect with several nearby townships starting more than 30 related projects of their own.

Following a "three highs and one low" standard—high density of investment, high content of science and technology, high proportion of domestic-oriented projects; and low consumption of resources—the park has introduced projects at the high end of the industrial chain to assist the overall industrial upgrade. These efforts involve, but are not limited to, working with business headquarters, R&D institutes and support service projects.

By 2009, the total industrial output value of the park had reached 21.5 billion yuan ($3.2 billion), a dramatic improvement from 2 billion yuan ($294 million) in 2005. This equates to an annual growth rate of 81 percent. Its dynamic development was labeled by China Central Television as the "Songshan Lake Model," which explored ways of switching from "made-in-China" products to "invented-by-China" products.

New plans are in motion now that the park has leveled up to a state-tier industrial zone. Park administrators are focusing their resources on new hi-tech fields including new-energy cars, the Internet, cloud computing and LED (light-emitting diode) illumination. Some park enterprises that made large investments in electric car battery have already seen results, like a trial electric car that can drive as far as 110 km on a single charge.

Investments for the foreseeable future will be focused on projects essential to industrial clusters' development and core industrial chains. Expectations hold that the park will hit a high-end electronics industrial output value of 100 billion yuan ($14.7 billion) with the park's overall value at 300 billion yuan ($44.1 billion) during China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period.

In early 2010, a delegation from a dozen LED lighting enterprises visited the Songshan Lake Park to inspect its comprehensive software and hardware environment. Interest was high, especially because of the park's LED industry support capacity, and a number of delegates considered investment.

China's semiconductor lighting industry is mostly distributed throughout the Pearl River Delta area, and its LED enterprises contribute to a quarter of the country's total, but the core technologies are still weak. "Many LED enterprises in Dongguan lack the core technology, and the leading LED technology is still in Taiwan," said Chen Jianzhi, an official with the park. The park organized several investment promotional events in Taiwan to enhance the park's LED industry's capacity.

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