New high-tech zone is ready

Updated: 2014-05-16 11:43

By Jack Freifelder in New York (China Daily USA)

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 New high-tech zone is ready

Members of the Wuhan municipal government pose for a photo with David C Chang (third from right), the Committee of 100's co-chair of International Programs, and Thomas B Moore (center), acting president of the China Institute (CI) in America, at an event on Wednesday in New York. The event, which was co-hosted by the CI and C-100, featured a presentation of plans to build a new sci-tech city as an extension of the renowned Optical Valley in China's Hubei province. Jack Freifelder / China Daily

Hubei center seeks students and investors

Plans for a new high-tech industrial zone in China's Hubei province are in the works, and government leaders of the city where it will be located are focusing on driving interest, investment and educational opportunities for the project.

Feng Jichun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Wuhan Municipal Government, said the Chinese Sci-Tech Industrial City (CSTC) has a specific focus on offering educational opportunities in the new zone.

"The development of science and technology cannot succeed without good education," Feng said through a translator on Wednesday during a presentation on the CSTC project at the China Institute in New York.

"We are trying to build a private university in this park but we also want to support kindergartens, elementary schools and high schools. In this way we can focus on education, so that overseas Chinese people will come back and can have their kids educated like they would be in the US," he said.

Feng also said the ability to reconcile the goals of making money and improving the livelihood of local residents would be an important aim for the project.

Wuhan is already home to Optical Valley (OV), one of three national demonstration zones for independent innovation focused on a number of high-tech industries, including photoelectron technology.

OV is China's biggest photoelectron information industry base, a scientific study that probes the potential use value of electronic devices that detect, source and control light as a form of reusable energy.

CSTC, which has the potential to accommodate more than 1 million residents, will exist as a complement to China's OV with opportunities for biotechnology development and research facilities, as well as space for the software and related services industries.

Feng, who is also a senior executive of the group in charge of the project, said he hopes university students who attend college in the new zone will be encouraged to take the initiative to start businesses in the area.

"Over the past 10 or 20 years, the Chinese government has paid great attention to making a large amount of investments in and expanding our educational system - especially at the university-level," Feng said.

"I am working on encouraging the development of business incubators, which will expand the job opportunities for our university graduates. If university graduates start businesses in Wuhan, they can get their businesses in our incubators free of charge for three years."

The CSTC project presentation, which also featured a visit from the Wuhan Municipal Government Delegation, was co-hosted by the China Institute and the Committee of 100 (C-100).

C-100 is a non-profit membership organization based in New York that seeks to encourage productive interactions between the US and China, while promoting the livelihood of Chinese Americans.

The China Institute (CI), founded in 1926, is the oldest bicultural organization in America that deals specifically with the world's second largest economy. Through a series of artistic, cultural and educational programs, CI hopes to strengthen the cross-cultural understanding that exists between the world's two largest economies.

David C Chang, co-chair of international programs for the C-100, said Feng brings an interesting perspective to the CSTC endeavor.

New high-tech zone is ready

"The Chinese education system right now is not a success, mainly because they are tied to the exam system," Chang said. "Everyone is locked in by the exam system, and in [Feng's] mind that makes this project a blank sheet of paper."

Jerry Hultin, president emeritus of New York University's Polytechnic School of Engineering, said he sees the program in Wuhan as a strong development for the city. "It's an exciting way to go and we've seen things of a similar nature in Suzhou," he said. "The way [CSTC] is approaching the K-12 and undergraduate education will help bring young people in. The benefit to society has been enormous and they'll bring the same benefit to Wuhan and central China."