Big data: Guizhou's new calling card
By Xu Yanqiu and Zhang Song

In a recent commentary, Nature, a weekly international journal, concluded that China "has transformed from a low-cost manufacturing base to a center of knowledge creation." This progress is best exemplified by the country's development of the big data industry.

A report by the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that by 2023, China's big data market will be worth almost 22.5 billion U.S. dollars. The report states the sector will continue to achieve steady expansion, driven by policy support and technology integration.  

Remarkably, the heart of China's big data industry lies in what was once one of the country's most isolated and backward provinces – Guizhou, which lies among the mountains of the southwest. 

Apart from the obvious benefits for the local economy, a key factor in the choice of location was the karst landforms – once a hindrance to development – which provide the perfect environment for housing big data infrastructure. The province's moderate climate, dependable power supply and sound network infrastructure are additional attractions for companies aiming to set up big data facilities.

Companies such as Apple, Qualcomm, Oracle, SAP, Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei have set up operations in Guizhou Province, southwest China. /CGTN Photo

Companies such as Apple, Qualcomm, Oracle, SAP, Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei have set up operations in Guizhou Province, southwest China. /CGTN Photo

In a recent report, CNN stated, "It's safe to say that 'Big Data' is now the new calling card of Guizhou." The report likened the province's development to that of the northern California area right before it transformed into Silicon Valley. "More than ever, it is looking like the same fate is in store for Guizhou," it concluded.

Among the companies that have already recognized the province's potential is tech giant Apple, which is currently building a data center in Guizhou – its third in the world after similar facilities in the U.S. and Denmark. A joint project with Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Company, the center is already handling iCloud services on the Chinese mainland.

Other multinationals that have followed Apple's footsteps and set up operations in Guizhou are Qualcomm, Oracle, SAP, Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei. 

Ma Ningyu, director of the Guizhou Big Data Bureau, explains, "Guizhou is a pilot area for China's big data industry. We have created an environment conducive to innovation by not being afraid to fail. From telecom providers, such as China Mobile, Telecom and Unicom, to companies like Tencent, Huawei and Apple, they are all here. What amazes us is this sense of optimism among the companies, to innovate and grow. This is the most prominent characteristic of Guizhou."

Someone else who is convinced of Guizhou's potential is Jack Ma, co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba Group. He has been quoted as saying, "If you missed the opportunity in Guangdong and Zhejiang 30 years ago, don't miss Guizhou today."

To learn more about Guizhou's rapid development as a center of the high-tech industry, please tune in to Rediscovering China on this coming Sunday at 10:30 a.m. BJT (02:30 GMT) on CGTN to watch Beyond the Future, the final episode in the four-part documentary China's Treasure: Guizhou, co-produced by Discovery Inc. and China Global Television Network.