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Zhongguancun, China's Silicon Valley
The Chinese Academy of Sciences, as well as a dozen famous colleges and universities, including Beijing and Qinghua Universities are located in Zhongguancun in Beijing's Haidian District. The area has a dynamic economy that focuses on the knowledge and information industries. The average age of the several hundred thousands of employees in Zhongguancun is about 30; and the area of Zhongguancun is popularly known as the Silicon Valley of China.

Since 1978, when China started to implement the policies of reform and opening-up, various special economic zones were established, such as the city of Shenzhen in Guangdong Province in the 1980s, the new district of Pudong in the Shanghai Municipality in the 1990s, and Zhongguancun in Beijing in the late 1990's. It has been forecasted that Zhongguancun will become the leader of China's hi-tech industry in the 21st century.

Similar to Silicon Valley in the United States, Zhongguancun is a product of the development of the market economy. Twenty years ago, the Chinese government decided to focus its attention on economic development, and so began the nationwide implementation of reforms. On October 23, 1980, Chen Chunxian, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, founded a technological development service department under the Beijing Society of Plasma Physics in Zhongguancun. It was the first civilian-run scientific and technological institution in the area. By the end of 1986, 100 non-governmental scientific and technological enterprises, specially engaged in the development and marketing of electronic products, were set up along the sides of a street which was later called the Zhongguancun Electronics Street.

The increasing use of computer and network technologies has accelerated the economic development of Zhongguancun. In June of 1999, under the guidance of the government's strategy of Developing the Nation Through Science and Education, the Zhongguancun Scientific and Technological Garden was established. It was the first state-level hi-tech industrial development zone to be founded in China.

In order to accelerate its development, the densely populated Zhongguancun Garden designed a new development pattern and established five subsidiary scientific and technological gardens. The Haidian Garden, where the Zhongguancun Electronics Street is located, is responsible for the research and development of hi-tech products. It has set up the 1.8-square-kilometer Shangdi Information Industry Base and the 4-square-kilometer Yongfeng Experiment Base. The other four subsidiaries are the Fengtai Garden, the Changping Garden, the Yizhuang Scientific and Technological Garden in the southern suburb, and the Electronics Garden in the northeastern suburb.

At present, the Zhongguancun Scientific and Technological Garden has more than 8,000 hi-tech enterprises, over 50 percent of which are IT enterprises. It not only houses large Chinese computer enterprises such as Founder and Legend, but also houses many foreign enterprises. 23 world-famous transnational corporations, 4 of the top 10 international software companies, and 43 of the world's 500 most powerful enterprises have established their research, development, and production branches in the garden.

The mottoes of the Zhongguancun Garden, including "Encouraging pioneering work and accepting failure" and "Relying on science, technology, and knowledge to increase economic power", have inspired many people to start their own businesses. Last year, 3,063 enterprises opened up for business in Zhongguancun. Of course, there were some enterprises that soon went out of business due to mismanagement. However, the starting up and closing down of enterprises has helped Zhongguancun strengthen its vitality.

To draw, and then employ professionally trained people is vital to the development of Zhongguancun's hi-tech industry. Today, the Zhongguancun Scientific and Technological Garden has 361,000 employees. Of those employees, 5,000 have a doctoral degree, 25,000 have a master's degree, and 180,000 have a bachelor's degree.

The Zhongguancun Garden has become an important part of Beijing's economic development. Over the past decade, it has maintained an annual economic growth rate of over 30 percent. In 2001, the garden realized a total income of 201.4 billion yuan from technology, industry and commerce, while its total industrial output value reached 128.7 billion yuan.

This garden has seized the opportunities offered by the new technological revolution. Founder and Legend, the two representative computer enterprises at Zhongguancun, have followed the development of computer technology and have effectively combined scientific and technological innovations with their practical applications. The Zhongguancun Scientific and Technological Garden is also the birthplace of the filmsetting technology of Chinese characters, the chip for Super Computers, the E-business website, and the standards of international communications information in China.

This year, Zhongguancun has formulated a new plan. According to this plan, by the end of 2004, the hi-tech industry of the garden will maintain an annual growth rate of over 20 percent and will establish more subsidiary gardens that will concentrate on developing software and life science in order to draw more world-famous enterprises. The Zhongguancun Scientific and Technological Garden aims to become a world-class scientific and technological zone in the years to come.

Transportation: Zhongguancun is located at Haidian District, and many bus lines can reach.

(China Pictorial December 12, 2002)

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