A pedestrian walks past a 5G promotion board. [Photo by Su Yang/For China Daily]
Zhang Zhigang, head of the mobile services provider China Telecom's Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Big Data Center, is delighted to see the first phase of the center, with four buildings, constructed during the pandemic last year.
The center, which started construction in Tianjin's Wuqing district, in late February last year, when coronavirus infections were spreading rapidly, is expected to enter service in the second half this year.
"The pandemic will never hamper our steps in construction or, more important, the synergism of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei province cluster," Zhang said.
China Telecom has pinned high hopes on the large internet data center to provide faster service to more 5G, internet and government clients in the region. It poured in a hefty initial investment of 10.2 billion yuan ($1.58 billion).
"We located the project in Tianjin because Beijing announced it would never approve large IDC projects with high energy consumption, even though the demand for such services is escalating," Zhang said.
In addition, Zhang said, "North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region and Southwest China's Guizhou province are hot investment destinations for big data projects in China. We chose Wuqing district because of the shortened data transmission distance from there to destinations in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, North China and Central China," he said.
Big data transmission has a 1 millisecond speed delay per 500 kilometers. "If we count the distance from Beijing to Guizhou as more than 2,000 kilometers, and Beijing to the Inner Mongolia autonomous region as 480 km, Tianjin's advantage is obvious," he said.
China Telecom's big data center is a prime example of the role of Tianjin — an hour's drive from the capital — in declustering Beijing's industrial energy consumption burden, while boosting the synergistic development of the region.
During the first 11 months of last year, Tianjin has lured 623 projects from Beijing with an investment of 105.8 billion yuan, accounting for 40.7 percent of total domestic investment.
In addition, high-tech projects are shifting their locations from Beijing to nearby Hebei — including the Hebei-South Beijing National High-Tech Achievement Transfer Model Zone, Baoding-Zhongguancun Innovation Center and Caoweidian-Zhongguancun High-tech Industrial Zone.
During the 13th Five-year Plan period (2015-20), Hebei province lured high-tech projects from Beijing, valued at 6.63 million yuan.
Dai Dongqiang, Party chief of Tianjin's Wuqing district, said, "Quality projects are crucial for the region's coordinated development and quality investment climate."
In addition to declustering Beijing's industrial and population burden, looking for cutting edge projects to move is at the top of the local governments' agenda, Dai said.
Liu Binglian, director of the College of Economic and Social Development and Nankai University's College of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Collaborative Development, noted: "Fostering new economic engines is the key for the region in building itself into a world-class city cluster."