Sunday, September 18, 2005

Science City Plans Approved

Beijing City Land Plans Approved
Zhongguancun “Science City” Demarcated
August 24, 2005 on
Source: Beijing Business Today (
Original website in Chinese:

Translated by Tyler Rooker on September 18, 2005 for

Sketch of “Science City” in Zhongguancun by Zhao Zhenchao

This reporter learned yesterday from the Beijing City Planning Committee that the specific plans for Zhongguancun Science City had been approved. The vice-president of the company responsible for first level developing of the Science City, Yang Jianping of Zhongguancun Science City Construction Limited Liability Company, said: the specific plans were put in place in order to increase benefits from development.

According to the City Planning Committee, the Zhongguancun Science City will run from Chengfu Road in the north to Zhichun Road in the south; from Zhongguancun Avenue (Baiyi Road) in the west to Finance & Economics Academy Road East in the east. This is a total of 331.43 hectares of total land use. The planned total construction is 4.42 million square meters, of which 2.65 million square meters will be set aside for construction by China Academy of Sciences. Insiders pointed out that this is possibly the largest scale land use in a city ever.
The Planning Committee also emphasized that it must combine demands for city landscape, environment, and land development so that multiple levels of construction involved in the Zhongguancun Science City are addressed. Also, it must clarify the plans for a green land system in the Zhongguancun Science City, plans for road and traffic systems, and plans for public facilities and government offices.

The Area is Equivalent to 1.5 Summer Palaces

(See here for an English tour of Beijing’s Summer Palace)

Zhongguancun Science City is located along the development axis of the Zhongguancun Science & Technology Zone. It has an area of over 330 hectares, equivalent to the area of 1.5 Summer Places. Together with Peking University, Tsinghua University and the Zhongguancun western high-tech commercial center, it forms the Zhongguancun Science & Technology Zone, Haidian Park central region. Zhongguancun There are over 25 national research institutes and over 50 national keystone laboratories and development laboratories. There are 16,000 science and technology workers of whom there are over 100 from the two Academies of Sciences. The Science City of Zhongguancun also has a large number of competitive high-tech enterprises. You could say that Zhongguancun Science City is the national treasure of high-tech talent in China.

Tardiness in Constructing the Science City

This reporter learned from related departments that as early as 6 years ago, China Academy of Sciences (CAS) had made plans to construct the largest science city in all of East Asia. In 1999, the city of Beijing and other science and technology departments decided to use a period of 10 years to build Zhongguancun Science City into a world-class science and technology zone.
In 2001, the city of Beijing government and CAS joined hands to plan the science city. In that year, on November 8, the Beijing Zhongguancun Science City Construction Limited Liability Company was formally established, which showed that the Zhongguancun Science City had entered the practical phase. And yet, over three years have passed and construction on the Science City remains in initial stages. Up until yesterday, formal permission to go ahead with the plans by the City Planning Committee had not been given.

The vice-president of the Beijing Zhongguancun Science City Construction Limited Liability Company, Yang Jianping analyzed the situation. He said that the tardiness of construction had three aspects. First, this area totals 331.43 hectares, equivalent to 1.5 Summer Palaces, and so there are difficulties in development. Second, the structure of Zone construction is complex ? the Science City encompasses 25 national research institutes and over 50 national keystone laboratories and development laboratories. These cannot be demolished so demolishment must be carried out carefully to avoid damage. Finally, there have been other problems with demolition that have not been solved.

The Rise of a High-Tech Economic Center

With the issuing of specific plans for the Science City, clear progress has been made in developing it. Specific plans have been integrated with overall city planning and specific district planning. Land use and use intensity in the specific districts has been clarified, while roads and engineering angles as well as environment protection have been integrated. These plans are the direct result of management by the City Planning Committee.

The Beijing Zhongguancun Science City Construction Limited Liability Company vice-president, Yang Jianping, explained it this way: the specific plans have been issues to demarcate the basic height, area, and roads to be encompasses. This is the backdrop to the next stage in planning.

The Beijing Zhongguancun Science City Construction Limited Liability Company has taken on the responsibility of constructing the Zhongguancun Science City High-Tech Industry Innovation Incubator. Starting with land development in 2001, today it has basically completed organization of this land. The Zhongguancun Science City High-Tech Industry Innovation Incubator will take up 33.6 hectares, with the basic function of transferring the scientific research capabilities of the Science City into industrial capabilities. It will become a well-know collaboration and information exchange center domestically and internationally. The Innovation Incubator will also be a high-tech and product training center. According to the plans, within 5-7 years, the Innovation Incubator will take advantage of a perfected infrastructure construction, advanced information networks, lively enterprises, beautiful environment, dense cultural atmosphere, and a modern feel -- a world-class science and technology zone.

President of China area for the Kotler Marketing Company (USA) Tiger Cao, real-estate investment consultant, said in an interview that: “This region has great development future. It will become concentrated area of high- and medium-level income groups. At the same time, because of Zhongguancun’s attractiveness, it will create a large movement of people. Over the next few years, this place will become like the CBD District -- an economic center with high-tech as its focus.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

DIY & Potatoes

DIY -- A Plate of Delicious Sliced Potatoes
Gao Mingxin

Another person has come to Zhongguancun. In the blink of a eye, he has bought a screwdriver. A few hours later, he has collected a CPU, a monitor, memory and other Zhongguancun “specialties” to take back home. This is “DIY” a newly fashionable phrase in the Village (Zhongguancun’s nickname). Put simply, DIY (“do-it-yourself”) is a three-way contest between a screwdriver, a computer case, and a monitor. “Cultured people” in the Village explain the phrase this way: “DIY is directly oriented to a large number of users. DIY assembly is the bridge between users and component sellers. DIY is the delight of component manufacturers; DIY is the scourge of complete system manufactures.”

A few days ago, the computer industry branch of the Beijing Electronics Merchant Association united with several dozen Zhongguancun brand-name computer manufacturers to present the government with a report. In the report, the licensed, brand-name manufacturers expressed outrage -- how is it that any Tom, Dick, and Harry can make computer assembly into a puzzle game? The report showed that the DIY market is in chaos: some DIY-ers are not licensed but still assemble computers at large scales. This phenomenon should be clamped down upon, the report recommended. There is no quality assurance for DIY products without licenses, and the safety of products is suspect.

Although the word DIY is of recent origin, the history of assembling computers in the Village is a long one. To learn how to eat sliced potatoes with vinegar and sugar, is it necessary to learn how to DIY potatoes? No, and yet many people who use computers start to learn about them from DIY. If a citizen wants to start work but has no abilities, he/she is not even given a chance to DIY a wooden stool in middle school crafts class. But if one’s dream is to use a computer -- starting an information revolution in the household -- one can actually use this passion to DIY computers. Part of the motivation for DIY comes from the simple fact that a portion of price goes to software makers; another portion goes to workers at the computer company. Men and women of the world prefer to grasp their pocketbooks tightly. Even if the memory strip doesn’t exactly fit in the motherboard, it is of little consequence -- take it and your screwdriver back to Zhongguancun.

In practice, those who can DIY potatoes but not computers need not worry since there are specialists in Zhongguancun’s electronics markets who DIY machines just like putting together a puzzle -- sticking together the different pieces and finishing within an hour. For the thousands of computer market counters, DIY is a Zhongguancun specialty. But the happiness of this bunch has become the worry of that bunch. The DIY business makes brand name manufacturers furrow their brows. With the appearance of licenses, brand names are more authentic and trustworthy. As the Chinese proverb foretells, “the army of the emperor will always defeat a lesser known army.” But history has shown that Li Zicheng still was able to occupy Beijing. The DIY-ers in the present component market are still riding high. “On Sunday’s, individual computer assemblers resemble a rushing stream -- they encircle the display areas of dozens of manufactures. In one day, every manufacturer has revenues over 100,000 yuan.” If everyone’s bowls were full, there would be no starving people suffering from famine. Isn’t it a good thing that everyone can enjoy DIY?

Demand has freed the market, so limiting DIY will not work. The debate over DIY does not boil down to a simple statement, nor is it a fundamental problem. DIY has real significance for the formation of the market and for rules of the market. DIY has relative standards that are based on price. Just as some people wear alligator skin shoes purchased from a store, others wear handmade vagabond shoes: it is not a question of whether or not your toes are comfortable -- price is the decisive factor. It is said that DIY products lack quality assurance. That is indisputable. Alligator skin shoes are more durable than vagabond shoes. But, as there are no DIY aircraft carriers, and no DIY B-52 bombers, there is little reason to fear.

10-20% of the U.S. computer market is personal or professional DIY assembled computers. But foreign DIY shows that red-hot demand centers on quality -- people who put a computer case together with a monitor suffer the scorn of experts. The originality of DIY comes from the pleasure of using one’s own hands in the process. If DIY creates a plate of delicious sliced potatoes but at the same time leads to conflict in the household, then losses outweigh gains.

Translated and edited by Tyler Rooker on September 6, 2005 for

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