When a carrier rocket built in the inland industrial city of Chongqing was launched on May 17, 2018, it was a historic day for Chinese industry and for policies that encouraged the rocket’s development.
The Chongqing Liangjiang Star, the nation’s first carrier rocket designed and built by private enterprise, blasted into space from a launch center in northwestern China two years after the project began.
Chongqing is famous for automobile and laptop production. But thanks to innovative policies in the Chongqing Liangjiang New Area, a private Chinese company was able to quickly develop a rocket.
“I have consulted with many Chinese rocket experts, and they told me that you can never build an engine if you don’t have 1 billion yuan ($141 million),” said Shu Chang, founder and chief executive of Chongqing OneSpace Technology Co, the first private company in China licensed to design and manufacture carrier rockets.
Shu, 34, has been compared to Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, the private space technology company in the United States. After thoroughly researching many parts of China, he decided to work with Chongqing Liangjiang Aviation and Aerospace Industrial Park in the new area to solve the financing problem.
“Liangjiang New Area helped us design a very detailed finance plan and solved our financial difficulty through various forms of support, such as government equity and debt as well as entrusted loans from banks,” he said. Entrusted loans involve lending arranged by an agent bank.
In the past two years, the new area raised 500 million yuan for the project and helped OneSpace’s rocket project become a success.
This rocket story is an example of Chongqing Liangjiang New Area’s efforts to pursue high-quality development.
The new area, established on June 18, 2010, is the country’s third State-level economic development zone after the Shanghai Pudong and Tianjin Binhai new areas.
The name Liangjiang means “two rivers” in Chinese, after the Yangtze and Jialing rivers that converge in Chongqing.
As the first such area in inland China, it shoulders the mission of spearheading the opening-up and reform of underdeveloped western regions where most of the country’s poverty-stricken population lives.
And after 10 years of rapid development, the new area is aiming to help build a world-class tech-savvy city via big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and blockchain technology following the nation’s development strategy.
In 2017, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China mapped the plan for building a digital China and a smart society.
On May 23, President Xi Jinping reemphasized the importance of promoting scientific innovation, accelerating the development of strategic industries, including the digital economy, intelligent manufacturing and new material, and creating more engines to drive economic growth. Xi made the remark during a joint panel discussion with national political advisers who were attending the annual session of the nation’s top advisory body.
“Building a smart city is the second venture of Liangjiang New Area,” said Wang Zhijie, deputy director of the Chongqing Liangjiang New Area Administrative Committee.
“With our digital economy industrial park and collaborative innovation zone, we should play a leading role in the western regions.”
The new area has attracted top tech giants, such as Tencent and Alibaba, as well as over 20 top universities and research institutes, including the Institute of Computing Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The new area is home to 158 Fortune 500 companies and last year attracted $6.07 billion in foreign investment.
In the past decade, the GDP of the new area has more than tripled, from 100.2 billion yuan to 339.1 billion yuan.
While the development of China’s inland area has long been hindered by traffic and logistics, Chongqing, at the upper reaches of the Yangtze, is particularly well suited to play its role as a gateway to western regions.
It boasts a large river port, international airport and railway network that has helped the city become an international trade and logistics hub connecting China, Europe and Southeast Asia.
In 2016, Xi said during his inspection tour at Guoyuan Port in Liangjiang New Area that the port is “full of promise for the future”.
Equipped with high technology in port and logistics management, Guoyuan Port can deliver freight using intermodal transport to ports in over 200 countries.
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