China’s Link to Global Innovation Network Receives a Boost

January 24, 2018

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Chengdu hi-tech zone of China accelerates to integrate into the global innovation network.

Recently, on January 10th, 2018, during the period of French President Emmanuel Macron's first visit to China, Chengdu Hi-tech Zone of China announced to join hands with French telecare company SeniorAdom and Sigfox, the world's leading IoT connectivity service, to develop the project of "Sino-French Cooperation·Chengdu International Intelligent Aging Service Demonstration Community". Just a day earlier, Brunel University London and National Physical Laboratory of Britain (NPL) also cooperated with local Chinese enterprises to officially set up the "China-UK Institute of Innovative Quality Engineering and Smart Technology" in Chengdu Hi-tech Zone Pilot Free Trade Zone. This institute will form an alliance of international top scientists by closely cooperating with world first-class scientific research institutions and colleges.

This cooperation form of setting up "alliance" with international scientific research institutions and science parks is by no means unique. Located in the inland of western China, Chengdu Hi-tech Zone Pilot Free Trade Zone is now showing its strong intention of open-up and cooperation.

This year is the 40th anniversary of China to launch the reform and opening-up. Two months ago, Chinese government proposed to endow greater autonomy and right of reform to pilot free trade zone so as to form an " opening-up pattern of linking inside and outside while bilaterally benefiting east and west". In 2017, China set up 7 new inland pilot free trade zones including Sichuan, the homeland of well-known giant pandas, after Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin, and Fujian.

Last April 1st, Sichuan (Chengdu) Hi-tech Pilot Free Trade Zone was officially set up and then in May, they launched a global top science park partnership program (TSPPP), expecting to set up an exchange and cooperation mechanism connecting global famous science parks and enterprises in terms of technology, capital, and industrial chain. 22 science parks including Sophia Antipolis of France, Barcelona Innovative Industrial Park of Spain, and Amsterdam Science Park of Netherland co-set up "World First Class S&T Parks Champions' League" in Chengdu Hi-tech Zone and the concept of "community with a shared future for Science Park" has been widely recognized. Last October, Sophia Antipolis of France and Chengdu Hi-tech Zone signed an agreement on mutual establishment of innovation centers; last November, Chengdu Hi-tech Zone and New Jersey Association of Trade & investment Promotion of United State signed a Memorandum of Understanding on jointly setting up liaison offices to promote the cooperation between Chinese and American enterprises. By the end of 2017, Chengdu Hi-tech Zone had already set up 18 off-shore innovation bases abroad.

The Business & Innovation Centre for China-Europe Cooperation, which the China-UK Institute of Innovative Quality Engineering and Smart Technology is about to settle in, is a new window for western China to comprehensively open to and cooperate with Europe. Since launched in last May, it has already signed settlement agreement with 17 European institutions such as European Business & Innovation Center Network (EBN), European Teach Tour Investment Agency Union, The Austrian Economic Chambers, Economic Development Agency of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), The Mediterranean Region of Montpellier of France, Sicily Region of Italy, Czech Technical Center, China-UK Development Center, and The Russian Union of Innovation and Technology Centre (RUITC).

In addition to vigorous development of international cooperation, Chengdu Hi-tech Zone Pilot Free Trade Zone is trying to change the stereotyped impression of the world to government departments in inland China to strengthen innovation in terms of management method. At present, it has basically formulated an investment management mechanism by taking Negative List as the core and the handling time of foreign-investment enterprise establishment and change shortens from over 20 working days to within 3 working days.

Innovation is also reflected in the field of finance. Chinese third internet bank -- XW Bank has been set up in Chengdu Hi-tech Zone Pilot Free Trade Zone. Even though it has neither fixed banking outlets nor operation counters, 24-hour financing service would be provided to customers online. So far, Sichuan XW Bank has already applied for 25 patents in terms of evaluation of credit risk, and financial open platform, and achieved automated approval process. Now, it only costs tens of seconds of handling each debt.

Overall, compared to pilot free trade zones in coastal region, transportation logistics is a great obstacle for inland free trade zones. However, Chengdu has already found the key to solve it. In 2017, Chengdu-Europe international train has already connected 14 overseas node cities, and comprehensively set up international logistics channel of Y-shape to the heart of Europe at the west, to Russia at the north, and to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the south. As for aviation, Chengdu has opened 104 international flights. In 2017, its inbound and outbound passengers surpassed 5 million, ranking first in western China. Now, the second international airport of Chengdu is under construction, which will make Chengdu become the third city in China that owns two airports after Shanghai and Beijing. Owing to its time-honoured history and profound traditional culture, Chengdu is now standing out from all cities in western China. It will be basically built as an international hub in 2020 facing to Europe westward and to Asia southward.

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