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China’s first conference supporting new mega data project kicked off

China’s first conference supporting its new mega data project kicked off over the weekend in Shaoguan, a prefecture-level city in the north of southern Guangdong province, showing the city’s ambition to become a data hub for the Greater Bay Area.

In February, China started working on its “Eastern Data and Western Computing” project to build an integrated big data system that will connect digital resources in the two regions with the establishment of 10 national data centre clusters and eight computing hubs.

The new event, which started on Saturday and runs through Monday, is the first national conference designed to support the plan, according to an article published on Shaoguan’s official WeChat account on Sunday. In addition to the Shaoguan government, the conference is hosted by various departments of the Guangdong government, the article said.

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Attendees include high-level executives and well-known industry figures such as Harry Shum, the Chinese computer scientist who was executive vice-president of artificial intelligence (AI) and research at Microsoft, and Wen Gao, a computer engineer known for his work on AI and professor at Peking University.

Events at the conference include a symposium on the “Eastern Data and Western Computing” project, roadshows about data centre projects, and talent acquisition events, according to the Shaoguan government’s announcement.

The new project spearheaded by the central government is recognised as a key effort in supporting digitalisation and the big data industry. The goal, as state-run Xinhua News Agency put it, is to “have less developed inland regions store and process data transmitted from economically advanced eastern areas”.

Shaoguan plans to invest 50 billion yuan in building a big data centre housing 5 million servers by 2025. Zheng Jinyuan, a member of the Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress, told Communist Party newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily in February that Shaoguan, as the city with the lowest average annual temperature in the province and a smaller chance of being affected by extreme weather like typhoons, is well suited for hosting a data centre.

Another related effort is ongoing in Guizhou, one of the poorest provinces in China’s mountainous southwestern region, in an effort to transform it into a big data hub. While touring Guizhou last year, President Xi Jinping called on cadres to push for a “deep integration” of big data and the real economy.

Guizhou has a number of ongoing projects that aim to meet Beijing’s goal of transforming it into a pioneering region for the big data industry. Yahoo! Finance

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