China’s Silicon Valley, According to Tencent Chairman

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A number of places have claimed to be the “next Silicon Valley.” While the one in California won’t go away, New York City, the research triangle in North Carolina and even Detroit say they will draw the best of tech talent due to special opportunities they can provide in the industry. The latest version of Silicon Valley will be in China, according to Ma Huateng, Tencent’s chairman and deputy of the National People’s Congress.

Among his proposals made Friday, according to the People’s Daily:

  • China should introduce favorable policies to turn the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area into the cradle of China’s “Silicon Valley”, national legislator Ma Huateng said on Friday.
  • Constructing a world-class high-tech Bay Area is critical to implementing China’s innovation-driven strategy, said Ma, who also chairs internet giant Tencent, at a news conference ahead of the fifth session of the 12th National People’s Congress, which begins on Sunday.
  • The proposal is also conducive to the long-term prosperity of the region, he said, especially for Hong Kong and Macao, which have untapped potential to deepen economic interdependence with the mainland.

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To bolster growth, Ma encouraged the adoption of preferential tax rebate policies in the area and loosening entry permission between the mainland and Hong Kong to retain talent.

The hurdles to the fulfillment of his dream are very high. China does not have world-class universities like Harvard, where Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was educated, and Stamford, where Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin attended PhD programs.

China also does not have major corporations that produce a massive share of the world’s intellectual property. These do not only include tech firms. Old-world companies General Motors and General Electric are among companies that file the most patents each year.

China doesn’t have what is needed to build its own Silicon Valley, and it may not ever.