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Wuxi rapidly builds high-tech economy

AFTER overtaking Japan to become the world's second-largest economy, China attaches increasing importance on scientific and technological innovation and industrial transformation in order to strengthen its status in the global economy. More than 600 cities in China are seeking to transform their economies rather than merely attracting more foreign investment.

With cutting-edge industries in new energy, integrated circuits and sensor networks, Wuxi City in Jiangsu Province is a "black horse" in the economic transformation of China. The city plays a leading role in technological innovation as it has for the past 100 years.

High-tech driven

As the origin of the "Sunan model" in which township enterprises developed rapidly since the 1980s, Wuxi has concentrated on textiles, iron and steel, and chemical industries, all of which consumed large amounts of energy and produced lots of pollution. Wuxi played an important role in traditional industries in the Yangtze River Delta. In 2005, the Wuxi City government started a plan to attract high-tech industries in line with the 11th national "Five-Year Plan (2006-10)." Wuxi's gross domestic product was 280.5 billion yuan (US$41 billion) then, accounting for 15.35 percent of the province's GDP. The industrial transformation was carried out in much the same way as most other cities in China in the following two years.

The "cyanobacteria incident" of 2007 changed the way people thought when pollution in Taihu Lake was so severe that it threatened the drinking water of residents in both Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

Yang Weize, Party secretary of Wuxi, said repeatedly that the Taihu Lake water crisis was a harsh slap on the ecological protection of Wuxi. The technological transformation of Wuxi was necessary due to the need to protect its environment.

To reduce the number of high-energy consumption and high-pollution enterprises, Wuxi concentrated on the development of new industries to accelerate economic restructuring. This included semiconductors, solar energy and outsourcing services.

Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd in new energy industry and Memsic in the semiconductor industry are two examples of innovative companies now in Wuxi. Through 2009, Wuxi's high-tech industries earned 475 billion yuan in revenue while the added value of high-tech industries accounted for 43.5 percent of all the large-scale industries in the city.

At the same time, Wuxi has become a national microelectronics industry base, a national service outsourcing model city and a sustainable development pilot zone in China. It is also a national innovation and demonstration area in sensor networks. For eight consecutive years, the city has been named as a national model city in science and technology.

The integrated circuit and photovoltaic industries of Wuxi are ranked No. 1 in the country. Wuxi's revenue in the offshore outsourcing industry is second in China while the LCD industry and the industrial design industry rank third in the nation. The wind energy industry and original animation production are both fourth in the nation.?From new energy, IT services outsourcing to the Internet of Things, the innovative high-tech industries are the driving force for the transformation of Wuxi, which has become one of the leading cities in China in high-tech industry development.

With years of innovation in science and technology, Wuxi aims to create a nationally renowned talent "reservoir," an idea developed by the Wuxi city government.

"Speeding up the transition is not simply expanding industries, we should attract talent to lead the economy," Party Secretary Yang said. "Talent is the city's future."

The model of scientific and technological innovation in Wuxi is unique.

Unlike most cities, Wuxi combines technological and industrial innovation, attracting leading talented professionals in high-tech industries with entrepreneurship and market expertise. With support in policy, capital, technology, marketing and other resources, Wuxi makes sure the leading enterprises of the city are well on the way to success, and then lets them develop at their own pace. This has been summed up as the "Wuxi model" and is well known around the country.

In 2000, Dr Shi Zhengrong created Suntech Power. Under the full support of the city government, Suntech became the largest firm in China and one of the top three solar companies in the world. It was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005 and Shi became the richest man in China at that time. In addition, Suntech led the development of the photovoltaic industry in China.

Shi has encouraged the Wuxi government to adopt the "530 plan," which aims to attract 30 leading overseas talented people in certain areas within five years.

This program is part of the efforts of Wuxi to look for breakthroughs for the future.

"We act as a caregiver first, then become a teacher in development, and serve as security guard after their success," Yang said of the "530 plan."

Up till the beginning of 2010, nearly 1,000 teams had settled in Wuxi with more than 6,000 talented professionals.????

At the beginning of 2010, the Wuxi City government set the goal of attracting more than 1,000 high-level professionals from overseas in five years. Wuxi has the target of becoming China's Silicon Valley.

The cooperation between government, industries and scientific research institutes aims to build a source of creativity. The "530 plan" makes Wuxi a cutting-edge technology hub at home and abroad. A large number of Chinese scientific research institutes have been attracted to set up their branches in Wuxi, pushing the scientific and creative ability of Wuxi to a new level.

In 2005, Wuxi first proposed the "7+1" cooperation among government, industries and scientific research institutes in Jiangsu Province. As of the end of 2009, Wuxi successfully set up 21 scientific research and industrial unions with 305 universities and research institutions and 877 enterprises participating in the programs. More than 2,500 projects under the program have been established.


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