BEIJING (Kyodo) Chinese from around the world are flocking to Zhongguancun in northwestern Beijing — or “China’s Silicon Valley” — which hosts thousands of high-tech firms.
One successful entrepreneur is Fang Feiyu, president of Dyna Technology Co., which develops small terminals for movies and cable TV receivers for the domestic market by using chips produced by Japan’s NEC Corp., Fujitsu Ltd. and other companies.
“The technologies of Japanese semiconductor producers are excellent, but nobody knows what products should be made for China by using them. That was a chance,” he said.
Fang was on the elite academic track as he majored in mechanics at Peking University and studied in Japan at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa and the graduate school of the University of Tokyo.
But he suffered a setback in the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. “I suffered a great loss of about 8 million yen in rubber futures trading and lost everything.” No rubber could arrive at Kobe port since it was paralyzed due to the quake.
To earn living expenses, he began a part-time job to develop software as he had some experience working in system development at Toshiba Corp. He installed seven personal computers at home and had help from Chinese friends.
His monthly sales topped the 1 million yen mark, and he established a software development company in Tokyo in 2000. He developed game software using NTT DoCoMo Inc.’s i-Mode and the next year he began to consider the opportunities in China.
“As China has a growing economy, I thought I could make a success in a Japan-China-related business,” Fang said.
There is a government-affiliated organization in Zhongguancun to support Chinese students returning home after studying abroad, and he could rent an office for free for one year. His company has also had tax-exempt status for three years.
Zhongguancun hosts not only information technology companies, but also many biotech firms and research institutes. There are also dozens of universities there, including the prestigious Peking and Tsinghua universities, and it supplies a flow of talented workers.
Chinese returning from working in Silicon Valley in California have set up many companies there and it has become a mecca for new technologies and ideas.
Competition is stiff. In the 1990s, professors at Tsinghua University set up many high-tech joint ventures and could be seen driving luxury cars on campus. But “only a handful of people were successful, and there were several professors who had failed in business and could not return to the university,” a professor said.
In looking at one building, Fang said, “A company there recently went bankrupt. Half of companies may go under in three years.” To make a comeback, some people went to the United States after their companies collapsed.
Personnel expenses are also skyrocketing as big global players like Microsoft Corp. have set up office here.
“The scramble for excellent personnel is happening. If good conditions are offered, people easily escape to other companies,” Fang said.
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