Ningxia is maturing into the center of digital economy

By FAN FEIFEI in Beijing and HU DONGMEI in Yinchuan | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-21 09:22

The first Data Valley in Western China Computing Industry Conference kicked off Thursday in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. [Photo by Hu Dongmei/chinadaily.com.cn]

Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is accelerating efforts to build green, low-carbon and secure data center clusters, network infrastructures and integrated computing power planning systems as part of its broader efforts to reinvigorate the digital economy and help achieve the country’s dual goals -Carbon targets, government officials and experts said.

Computing power, which serves as a key productive force in the digital economy era, has become an important engine for China’s economic growth, said Mai Yanzhou, a member of the Standing Committee of the local party committee and vice governor of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Province.

Mai said that in recent years, Ningxia has made full use of its unique advantages in terms of location, climate and resources to promote the digital transformation of industries, the industrialization of digital technologies and the development of the digital economy.

By 2025, the number of data center racks, which consist of a physical frame made of steel and other alloys to house electronic servers, cables, network equipment, cooling systems and other computer equipment, is expected to reach 720,000 in Ningxia, and the utilization rate of renewable energy is expected to increase up to 65 percent, he found.

Mai made the comments at the first Data Valley in Western China Computing Industry Conference held in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia, on Thursday and Friday.

A number of domestic and overseas technology companies such as Amazon Web Services, Meituan, China Unicom, China Mobile and China Telecom have built data centers in Ningxia to provide cloud computing services due to the abundant energy resources and cooler climate.

In February, China launched a mega-project that includes the construction of eight national data centers and 10 national data center clusters, suggesting that its strategy of channeling more computing resources from the country’s eastern regions to its less-developed but resource-rich western regions is in full swing is in progress.

Ningxia is among the eight national data centers, with Zhongwei, a city in Ningxia, among the ten national data centers.

Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology Zhang Yunming called for efforts to accelerate the construction of new infrastructure, including national integrated data centers, large and super-large data centers and intelligent data centers, while promoting the deep integration of computing power with various sectors such as healthcare, education and government affairs.

In addition, increased efforts are needed to advance the green and low-carbon transformation and upgrading of computing infrastructure, Zhang said at the conference.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China’s total computing power now ranks second in the world. By the end of June, the number of data center racks in use exceeded 5.9 million, and the number of servers in China reached nearly 20 million.

The market size of China’s computing power industry exceeded 1.5 trillion yuan (US$213.9 billion) last year, with cloud computing topping 300 billion yuan and internet data center services over 150 billion yuan, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology said , a government think tank .

“Most of China’s computing infrastructure is currently distributed in the eastern regions, while the western regions have the potential to promote the development of data centers and meet the computing needs of the eastern regions,” said Yu Xiaohui, head of China Academy of Sciences Information and communicationtechnology.

Yu said the implementation of the East-Data-West Computing project will be conducive to optimizing national computing power allocation, utilizing green energy in western regions, improving data center energy efficiency, and promoting emerging digital industries.

Liu Liehong, chairman of China Unicom, a major Chinese telecom operator, said the company has invested 3.2 billion yuan in Ningxia and will steadily increase investment to accelerate the construction of low-carbon, high-efficiency data centers. It is estimated that after the project is completed, the number of racks in the data center will reach 12,000 and the number of servers will reach 400,000.

China Telecom has actively participated in the country’s mega-project for computing power hubs and data center clusters. Shao Guanglu, general manager of China Telecom, said the company will build green data centers and secure, reliable computing platforms to promote the high-quality growth of the digital economy.

It also plans to explore building the country’s first integrated computing power trading and planning platform in Ningxia, and to provide and share computing power trading solutions by partnering with suppliers and service providers in the upstream and downstream industrial chains.

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