China needs more high-tech zones to drive innovation.

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China wants to add some 50 high-tech zones by 2030, and promises to continue support and investments. The government touts these industrial development areas as fueling the country’s GDP and making “breakthroughs” in quantum computing and 5G communications.

Currently, there are 173 high-tech zones nationwide, 84 of which have been established in the past decade alone. It is planned to increase this number to 220 by the end of the government’s 14th five-year plan in 2025, the Ministry of Science and Technology said at a media conference on Wednesday. These sites cover most of China’s eastern provincial-level cities, as well as major provincial cities in the central and western parts.

High-Tech Zones They will contribute 13.4% of GDP in 2021 and use only 2.5% of domestic construction land, state-run newspaper China Daily reported on Thursday. The development areas generated 15.3 trillion yuan ($2.2 trillion) in gross domestic product last year, up from 5.4 trillion yuan ($775.77 billion) in 2012.

They also comprise 78% of national technological innovation centers and 84% of China’s state key laboratories, federally funded universities and research institutes. More than 4,400 research institutions live in tech zones, employing more than 5.63 million researchers.

More than 115,000 high-tech companies are located in these zones, down from less than 20,000 in 2012. Exports from the zones accounted for 24.4% of the country’s total exports last year, up from just 3.2% in 2012.

In addition, 97 high-tech zones recorded revenue of 100 billion yuan ($14.37 billion) last year, compared to 54 in 2012, said Li Yuping, deputy director of the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Torch High-Tech Industry Development Center.

These sites collectively spent more than 1 trillion yuan ($143.66 billion) on research and development (R&D) last year.

Li said the high-tech zones have made many breakthroughs in quantum computing, satellite navigation and 5G communication. China’s first artificial intelligence (AI) chip and first quantum communication satellite were developed by scientists and companies working in high-tech zones, he said.

He added that the zones have established more than 2,200 research institutes overseas, and 77 percent have adopted policies to promote globalization.

“These zones will be the vanguard of high-quality development and will further contribute to China’s transformation into a scientific and technological powerhouse,” Li said.

According to Wu Jiaxi, Deputy Director of Research Commercialization and Regional Innovation of the Ministry of Science and Technology, high-tech zones are resilient to disasters and have been able to achieve growth despite the global market instability in recent years.

Wu added that the government has provided “policy support” and will encourage investment in key areas including digital technologies, energy and biopharmaceuticals. For example, the Changsha High-Tech Zone in Hunan Province will invest 1 billion yuan ($143.66 million) in the next three years to nurture local talent, he said.

He also pointed out that tax relief and assistance in product marketing will be given to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Among the current crop of 173 high-tech zones, Chengdu Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone achieved a total regional output of 280.06 billion yuan ($40.23 billion) last year, a year-on-year growth of 11.1 percent. In the year Founded in 1988, this space includes the Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park, which was jointly developed by Singapore and Sichuan and focuses on 5G, AI, big data and network security.

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