The ongoing China High-tech Fair has become more popular among local residents as well as industry professionals, top government officials said in Shenzhen on Tuesday.
The fair had attracted 450,000 visitors as Monday noon, already 20,000 more than last year's total number of visitors, Vice Mayor Liu Yingli told reporters.
The professional visitor index, which is used to measure the popularity of the fair in relation to trade visitors, rose from 207.1 last year to 257.8, the vice mayor said. In 2004, the index peaked at 153.
He praised the booths of domestic exhibitors, saying they were the best he had seen in the fair's eight-year history.
The fair organizer is not disclosing the transaction volume reached during the fair according to international practice, but Wang Xuewei, head of the city's commerce and industry bureau revealed that more than 94 percent of the contracts signed related to high-tech products.
The transactions cover a wide range of high-tech fields such as IT, bio-pharmaceuticals, new materials, environment-friendly products and new energy, Wang said.
Oddly enough, the fair started out as a local li zhi (a type of fruit) festival. Now a national-level exhibition that showcases the development of science and technology in China, it provides a strong signal to the world that the country is becoming increasingly well known for its high-tech innovations and as a hothouse of high-tech start-ups, the vice mayor said.
"Many Shenzhen high-tech firms have benefited from the fair. Netac, Han's Laser, and Tencent would not have experienced such rapid growth without it," he added.
The fair has also become more international with a record number of 25 foreign delegations exhibiting this year compared with 23 last year. "The developed countries are here to look for cooperation opportunities and the developing countries want to learn from China," he said.
Finland, a country renowned for its innovation, sent a delegation to introduce its high-tech sectors to local companies.
Liu also recounted how he had to show the Mozambique minister of science and technology around two high-tech industrial parks at midnight at the latter's request.
"He showed me his country's science and technology development plan on September 26 and has committed to bringing a delegation to the fair next year," Liu said.
The Hong Kong pavilion is the largest ever, with a much bigger booth, more people and more organizations than last year.
But Liu admitted that there is a long way to go yet for the fair in terms of becoming a world-class international exhibition. "It took the Canton Fair 50 years to achieve its reputation and scale today, and we (the high-tech fair) are only eight years old."
Liu added that there are plans to reach out to more foreign industry associations, non-government organizations and chambers of commerce for future events.
(Shenzhen Daily October 18, 2006)