Tencent announces major push in Xiongan New Area

By He Wei and Zhang Yu in Shijiazhuang | | Updated: 2017-11-23 20:14

Tencent Holdings Ltd, Asia's most valued firm, plans to set up a financial technology lab and digitalize public medical services in the Xiongan New Area, part of a broader push to set foot in the country's new economic zone.

This was according to Tencent Chairman Pony Ma, who addressed the China International Digital Economy Summit 2017 in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, on Thursday.

Xiongan will serve as an "innovation experimental platform" to build the so-called smart society and is poised to become a role model for digital upgrade, he said.

"Digital economy will contribute to over 70 percent of China's GDP growth this year," Ma said. "We will use technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing…to spur new growth momentum and help empower industries from retail to manufacturing."

On the sidelines of the conference, the company signed a strategic partnership with the Xiongan local government on the development of fintech, leveraging its core capabilities in financial big data, cloud computing, blockchain and AI. No details of the collaboration were disclosed.

Tencent will also focus on computer vision for medical diagnosis and deepen cooperation with hospitals across Hebei province through the adoption of machine learning technologies, he added.

Digital economy accounts for 40 percent of Hebei's economic output, ranking No 12 in terms of the level of economic digitalization, Ma said, citing internal data compiled by Tencent that gauged the extent internet has penetrated and applied across all industries.

In the first nine months of the year, the fastest growth in adopting technologies was registered by the medical, education and mass cultural sectors in the province. But he sees more potential in digitalizing civil and social services.

China announced the launch of the Xiongan New Area in April, aiming to relieve the population burden of Beijing and match the success of zones in Shenzhen and Shanghai that have helped expedite China's progress into an economic powerhouse.

The move will make it the second internet company to settle in the hub, after Alibaba Group Holding Ltd brought its fintech, technology and logistics arms to the city earlier this month and vowed to build it into a "prototyped smart city".

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