Mon, Nov 20, 2000 - Page 8 News List

China hi-tech park still just a plan

By Hsu Tung-ming 許東明

In the new economy, competition based on hi-tech knowledge is becoming increasingly fierce. To stake out territory in the highly competitive international marketplace, every country is busy establishing a competitive edge in new markets that still possess vast potential for development. Both the "National Knowledge-Economy Conference" (全國知識經濟會議) recently convened in Taiwan, and the "Draft of Articles for the Zhongguancun Technology Park," (中關村科技園區條例草案) recently announced in China, reflect the importance of hi-tech development to the governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Two key projects listed in China's "Tenth Five-year Plan" (十五計劃), are the development of western China and development of the hi-tech sector. And in terms of developing hi-tech, Zhongguancun serves as the most representative example. The Chinese government and media all regard Zhongguancun as "China's Silicon Valley," a name loaded with high expectations.

Located in Beijing's Zhongguancun, nearby China's two best universities, Peking University (北京大學) and Qinghua University (清華大學), Zhongguancun's earliest development roughly coincides with that of Taiwan's Hsinchu Science-based Industry Park (新竹科學工業).

Zhongguancun has been under development for about 20 years, but has only in recent years succeeded in attracting the attention of the Chinese government and multinationals. Treating Zhongguancun as a special case, China's government is increasingly prepared to pool together all available resources and pour them into Zhongguancun's development. The "Draft Articles for the Zhonguancun Science Park" is to be China's first law governing hi-tech development. The law standardizes a policy of favored status for hi-tech industry and gives the sector power to implement a stock-option system (股份期權制).

In addition, Beijing is opening its doors ever wider to non-resident hi-tech personnel by relaxing previously strict limitations on residency. Inflated local housing prices, a construction boom and high numbers of migrant workers all testify to Zhongguancun's powerful allure.

Zhongguancun, with more resources at its disposal, has experienced smoother development compared to western China. But can it realize its dream of becoming "China's Silicon Valley?" Looking at Zhonguancun's present stage of development, it appears to lack three essential pre-conditions: talent-incentive mechanisms, a financial support system, and an entrepreneurial environment.

Hi-tech industry characteristically has high levels of professionalism, risk, mobility, and creativity. Recruiting hi-tech talent is an important task in determining whether one can maintain a superior position on the ultra-competitive, global hi-tech battlefield. This is the challenge of building effective talent-incentive mechanisms. Just this past May, US President Bill Clinton proposed a plan to Congress regarding the importation of hi-tech talent. In the plan, quotas for imported hi-tech talent between the years 2001 and 2003 would increase from 115,000 to 200,000 people. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has also announced that he will propose a set of measures concerning the recruitment of foreign hi-tech talent, setting a target figure of 20,000 people. The recruitment of hi-tech talent by developed countries has already reached a highly competitive level.

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