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Dozen Big Firms Purchase Land in Zhongguancun
Beijing is seeking to build up the country's software industry by attracting more big foreign and domestic names into its software development park.

So far, 12 large Chinese companies have signed land-purchase agreements with the Beijing Zhongguancun Software Park Development Company, said Guo Zaibin, company president.

Negotiations have been held with international software giants, including Microsoft and Oracle, which have shown great interest in establishing a presence in the 139-hectare park.

Oracle, the world's second-biggest software vendor, is considering launching its second China-based research centre in the park.

During his visit to the park last month, Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison said that the company's research centre in Beijing will focus on government software instead of the business applications developed in its Shenzhen centre in South China's Guangdong Province.

The software park provides preferential policies to the world's top 500 companies, including free use of land and tax discounts.

Li Baoxin, chairman of the Zhongguancun Development Company, said: "If we want to be top-class in the world, we should have domestic and international giants based here."

Although the sales value of China's software sector last year rose 23.9 per cent to 28.5 billion yuan (US$3.4 billion), the country's software industry lags far behind neighbouring India.

The Chinese Government has decided to work harder to catch up as quickly as possible, which is good news to the country's 11 State-level software development parks.

Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen are all striving to be the leader of the Chinese software industry.

A confident Li said: "If we cannot be No 1 in the country, it means nothing but failure."

The output value of Beijing's software industry accounts for one-third of the country's total.

The Chinese capital also has a concentration of famous universities, which means a rich reserve of talent. Peking University intends to set up a software institution in the park.

The Zhongguancun Development Company has invested over 1 billion yuan (US$120 million) so far in the park's construction. Total investment will amount to 5 billion yuan (US$602.4 million) when the construction of the park is finished by 2005.

It is predicted that, when the park is completed, 224 large and medium-sized companies will have moved in and there will be more than 50,000 employees. The park's annual output value should then come to 11 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion).

Large areas of greenery and water will be created to create an attractive environment, which Li said will inspire software developers.

The park will also provide all-round services to enterprises, by setting up an evaluation and certification centre, an intellectual property rights registration centre, a technology exchange market and a labour market.

(China Daily July 3, 2002)

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