Getting to know Tianjin

Updated: 2013-11-25 06:25

By YU WEI in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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A delegation from Tianjin, China's largest coastal city and port in the north, visited Silicon Valley in a bid to attract potential US investors, as well as recruit high-tech talent.

"Our mission is to introduce more cutting edge technologies from China, particularly from Tianjin, to people in Silicon Valley so that they can get to know us better," said Yang Xucai, president of Tianjin Venture Capital Association, who led the science and technology entrepreneurship investment delegation, during a reception in Santa Clara, California on Friday.

"China is undergoing an industrial transformation and upgrading, in technological operations as well," Yang said. "In the coming years, the trend will be for integration across the Pacific."

"People who get onboard this fast train will reap the benefits, and also have enormous profits from the remarkable business opportunities in this integration," he added.

Tianjin has placed great importance on building science and technology infrastructure. Its R&D expenditure and local GDP ratio has reached 2.7 percent and its comprehensive scientific and technological level ranks in the top three in the nation.

Tianjin is expediting the construction of investment platforms such as its 31 municipal-level industrial parks. Its Binhai New Area has helped make the city third to only Shenzhen and Pudong in the new wave of growth.

"Tianjin has been accelerating the development of science and technology industries, including aerospace and aviation, high end equipment manufacturing, electronic information, biomedicine, new energy and new materials, energy saving and environmental protection," said Shan Guangrui, the president of science and technology at the Tianjin Municipal Science and Technology Commission.

Shan said for overseas investors who would like to start a business in Tianjin, the government helps create a favorable environment for innovation and entrepreneurship by providing preferential policies.

For high-tech small- and medium-sized startups, for instance, the government will give 100,000-600,000 yuan ($16,500-$98,500) grants to help through the difficulties of their early days. Once startups enter their growth period, the government will offer 1-10 million yuan grants and provide preferential financial treatment, such as lower commercial interest rates.

Shan said Tianjin has gained momentum in terms of its international technological cooperation with many countries in the recent years, particularly with North America, Europe and East Asia. "High-tech companies as well as Fortune 500 companies are establishing their presence in Tianjin's industrial parks. By the end of 2012, 151 Fortune 500 companies had invested in Tianjin and established facilities there," he said.

China's Ministry of Commerce shows investment from the US increased 12.4 percent to $3.04 billion during the January-October period this year.

"I brought co-founders of a US startup that produces electric scooters to this Tianjin event as they are hoping their company will be funded by not only American investors but also Chinese investors," said Tom Kosnik, a consultant at Stanford Technology Ventures Program. "They would like their scooters to be used in Tianjin high-tech industrial parks for people to commute between their apartments and offices, keeping the environment clean."

Kosnik said events like this are necessary, especially for Americans who want to get involved with Chinese businesses and the government but don't know how.

"I think events like this help American enterprise learn about Tianjin, so they can more intelligently approach Tianjin to bring their company there and collaborate with the people there," Kosnik said.

Tong Chiling, CEO of the International Leadership Foundation and associate director of the Minority Business Development Agency at the Department of Commerce, said

China's development has been incredible for the past decades.

"When I was in DC, I saw high-level officials from China meeting high-level officials from Washington almost every day. A stronger China-US partnership will bring us all greater prosperity," Tong said. "I hope today's Tianjin event will create even more business opportunities."

"I visited Tianjin about two months ago. My friend Howard Li, CEO of Waitex Group, developed an outlet shopping mall Florentia Village in Tianjin two years ago," Tong said. "Today, about 20,000 visitors shop there every day."

"This is only one small story about what's happening in China," she said.