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Last Updated: Friday, 26 November, 2004, 17:47 GMT
Hong Kong's hi-tech haven
Dan Simmons
By Dan Simmons
BBC Click Online reporter

For decades the latest technology has always found a natural home on Hong Kong's shores. With new competition from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong has reacted by setting up an hi-tech business hub with superfast wireless internet access.

A technology war is being waged between Hong Kong and its big brother China.

China, which has been watching and learning from the former colony's success, has a battle plan involving Beijing and Shanghai as major draw cards for hi-tech businesses wanting to be at the heart of the China boom.

And the Hong Kong Government has responded swiftly.

By spending $2bn, it has created Cyberport - the newest "teleport" on the planet.

Although the name may suggest space-age travel, a teleport is the generic term for business complexes which are temples to technology.

If we talk of an information superhighway, teleports are the spaghetti junctions - the widest crossroads in town.

David Chung
Our network is running at 100 megabits a second, which is 10 times faster than normal broadband connections
David Chung, Cyberport
Located to the south of Hong Kong island, Cyberport is one of several large-scale technology projects aimed at retaining the region's reputation as the number one gateway to Asia.

It has taken four years to build and comes complete with a hi-tech hotel, apartments, shops and services.

But it is not just about good looks, according to David Chung, from Cyberport's computer operations.

"Our network is running at 100 megabits a second, which is 10 times faster than normal broadband connections.

"You basically can get all the wireless coverage everywhere, in any corner of Cyberport.

"We have a utility computing equivalent of 100 computers. So you can run different kinds of applications on top of it."

Blueprint?

Focusing on producers of online video, music and animation, Cyberport also offers those who move their business here access to some very specialised kit.

The award-winning special effects outfit Centro Pictures was one of the first to move in.

John Chu, chairman of Centro, says: "We use the motion capture studio, we use the rendering facilities here when we are short of them ourselves from time to time, as well as the high definition studio, which is the first one in Hong Kong."

So is Cyberport the island's saviour, a blueprint other countries should follow?

Professor Vincent Chen
If Hong Kong can take advantage of this window of opportunity to make major developments in IT industries, they could hang on to their leadership position
Prof Vincent Chen
Professor Vincent Chen was an adviser to the politicians who introduced Cyberport and has taught at Hong Kong's University of Science and Technology.

He thinks it is a good idea but faces some very traditional problems.

"I have talked to companies who didn't want to move, so that's a location problem. So if in the future the transportation problem is eased, and if there is cheaper housing near Cyberport, then things may change."

He believes China could become a major threat to Hong Kong, but not at this very moment.

"Even though at this time their costs are low, their infrastructure is not as good.

"If Hong Kong can take advantage of this window of opportunity to make major developments in IT industries, they could hang on to their leadership position."

Cyberport has been built to aid that aim.

Inspiration

Despite opening with only half its office space filled, the sales director is not worried.

Cyberport's very nature means he cannot let just anyone set up business here.

Project director Mark O'Clift says: "The main focus currently is on creators, managers and deliverers of digital content, because that's where we see the big niche for Hong Kong going forward.

"I think when you look around you can see that it's meant to be an inspirational environment, to help our companies, to help Hong Kong."

The thing that Cyberport really delivers is the power, support and glamour that small and medium sized technology firms cannot afford.

And if it proves to be self-financing, while investing enough to stay at the cutting edge, then the bold idea of the teleport may well catch on in many other countries.


Click Online is broadcast on BBC News 24: Saturday at 2030, Sunday at 0430 and 1630, and on Monday at 0030. A short version is also shown on BBC Two: Saturday at 0645 and BBC One: Sunday at 0730 . Also BBC World.

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SEE ALSO:
Hong Kong signs cyberport deal
17 May 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Regions and territories: Hong Kong
26 Oct 04 |  Country profiles


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