China reforms eye more innovative bases

Updated: 2013-11-06 11:23


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WUHAN -- Chen Xinshu never expected a small workshop that started with only 17 people eight years ago would have developed into a leading manufacturer of high-tech medical instruments.

The company, called Zoncare, with an expected sales volume of 100 million yuan ($16.4 million) this year, sounds like a miracle for most small businesses in China, which usually find themselves in trouble due to lack of money.

"At first we had few fixed assets. No banks were willing to offer any loans to us," Chen, deputy manager of Zoncare, recalled.

Luckily, with the help of Optical Valley's association for credit ratings promotion, the company was later given a triple-A rating and offered a credit extension loan of 50 million yuan from a state-owned bank, according to Chen.

"It's unlikely that we would get such preferential treatment elsewhere," he said.

Wuhan Donghu New Technological Development Zone, better known as Optical Valley, is China's base for the photoelectron industry. Located in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, the zone was approved by the State Council in 2009 as the country's second National Independent Innovative Demonstration Zone, following only Zhongguancun in Beijing.

With help from the loan, Zoncare has made a series of breakthroughs in medical instrument development, and its products are sold to more than 100 countries and regions.

Over the past 35 years of opening and reform, China has developed into the world's second-largest economy, but its resource-heavy development mode has yet to be changed. Restricted by the increasing cost of resources, energy and labor, the country has been under pressure to maintain its rapid economic development.

At the 18th National Congress in November 2012, the Communist Party of China put forward a strategy for innovation-driven development, stressing the importance of scientific innovation in improving productivity and overall national strength.

On September 30, members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee visited Zhongguancun and studied there, another sign that the country yearns for power in advanced science and technology.

Chinese president Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said on Saturday that a blueprint for comprehensive reform would be put forward at the upcoming Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, scheduled for November 9 to 12. Many people believe innovation development strategy will be a focus for the new round of reforms.

National innovative bases such as Zhongguancun in Beijing, Optical Valley in Wuhan, and Zhangjiang in Shanghai, are at the frontier in the drive for economic reform.

Zhongguancun is China's first high-tech park zone and the first national independent innovative demonstration zone. Over the past 20 years, nearly 20,000 high-tech enterprises, consisting of 1.56 million employees, have registered there, reaching total revenues of 2.5 trillion yuan last year. It has become a symbol for the country's high-tech development.

As in Zhongguancun and the Silicon Valley in the US, numerous high-tech talents from around the world gather and start their businesses in Optical Valley, which is home to more than 10 universities and 50 state-level research institutes.

Li Shiting, chief of the zone's scientific innovation bureau, said these enterprises, which represent the most advanced technology, are important engines for the country's economic reform. "We can't afford to lose them just because they are short of capital," he said.

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