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Wuxi steps up as leader in China's global tech push

China Daily Updated:2019-09-07

           

More than a decade of growth in scenic Jiangsu province city results in strong development pace and complete industrial chain for technology-based industries

A national leader in the internet of things, or IoT, Wuxi, a city in East China's Jiangsu province, has built an industrial cluster worth more than 200 billion yuan ($28.2 billion).

Wuxi is home to a complete IoT industrial chain of more than 2,000 companies producing sensing chips, network communications and application products. Their operating revenue surpassed 263 billion yuan in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 23.7 percent.

The history between Wuxi and the IoT can be traced back to 2008 when IBM suggested building a "smart planet", and when a growing number of cities set out to become "smart". Wuxi grasped the opportunity to take a new approach to its industrial restructuring.

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 The China Sensor Network International Innovation Park in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. Provided to China Daily

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Left: Visitors flow into the exhibition hall of the World Internet of Things Exposition held in Wuxi, Jiangsu province in 2018. Sun Shihe / For China Daily. Right: Exhibition area of the WIOT 2018. Jia Junsong / For China Daily

As China's southern base for the microelectronics industry in the 1980s, Wuxi produced the nation's first large-scale integrated circuits, the foundation for the development of the IoT.

Therefore, Wuxi obtained approval from the central government to construct the Wuxi National Sensor Network Innovation Demonstration Zone in 2009, the official beginning of its IoT development.

"Wuxi stays focused on the IoT, which means it is the focal point of the new generation of information technology," said Ni Guangnan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The companies that have initiated major IoT-related projects in the city include Alibaba, Huawei and biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

Located in Wuxi's core, Xuelang IoT town arose from the Wuxi government and Alibaba Group's determination to accelerate the integration of the IoT and manufacturing.

Wang Jian, founder of Alibaba Cloud and an adviser to Xuelang town, said that Xuelang town gave the world not only a new "town" but a new "time" - digital time, which makes data a resource for industrial production and will make manufacturing the engine of the future digital economy.

Wuxi has currently established 14 international standards in the field of IoT, affirming the city's key role in global IoT industrial development.

"Standardization is most important for the development of the IoT, and Wuxi is the master of standard setting," said Liu Haitao, director of the Wuxi IoT Industry Research Institute and chairman of World Sensing Net Group.

"Industrial development cannot be separated from product application," said Gao Yaguang, vice-mayor of Wuxi.

She added that the city explores IoT applications in everything from citizen's daily lives to government decisions.

A paragon of China's national industry, the century-old Wuxi No 1 Cotton Mill Textile Group has applied IoT technology to its spinning equipment.

"Before employing IoT technology, 300 workers were needed to produce 10,000 bales of cotton, and now we can do that with just 25 people," said Zhou Yejun, president of the group.

The world's leading city-level internet of vehicles LTE-V2X project began in Wuxi in 2017.

It has an interactive network of real-time information about roads, pedestrians and vehicles. The information is reported through vehicle-carried terminals to the drivers for choosing the best route in case of traffic congestion or hazardous situations.

Eyeing the city's advantages in IoT development, AstraZeneca applies the technology to diagnosis and medical treatment around China and has set up an innovation center in Wuxi.

The center is conducting a capsule endoscopy project, which can improve community hospital's service, according to Xu Jing, vice-president of AstraZeneca China.

Wuxi takes innovation and talent as the driving force for future IoT development.

The city upgraded its Taihu Lake Talent Plan, inviting elite workers to help boost its modern industry.

So far, Wuxi has welcomed some 180,000 IoT practitioners, including 13,000 high-level professionals and 1,300 overseas returnees.

caijingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 09/07/2019 page19)