The capital of China, Beijing, brings many great things to the table outside of its culture. While many may associate ancient temples or tourism with the city of Bejing, there is so much more to the area as a whole.
Over the past few decades, Beijing has beome a tech superpower in addition to a cultural center.
The the most well-known of China's technology first based out of Beijing are search giant Baidu, social media Tencent, e-commerce site jd.com, and car-hailing service Didi Chuxing. Collectively, these companies are worth just over $431 billion U.S.
Before we jump into the post, here are a few quick facts about Beijing and its tech scene:
- The city had a population of 21,710,000 in 2015, making it the second largest city in China and the third largest city in the world
- Beijing had a nominal GDP of $375 billion USD and $17,278 USD per capita for 2016
- Median household income (2015): $39,615
- There are more than 500 startups and tech companies
- There have been 31 startups launched since the beginning of 2017
- Total funding for the past 12 months is $16,462,029,663
While social media, e-commerce and the sharing economy are significant portions of Beijing's tech industry, there are a variety of sub sectors that are helping to contribute to its rising status.
One of the areas that's touted as an area to watch for Beijing is artificial intelligence as its government plans to invest large sums of money in the technology. Following its country's billions invested in research, China is also planning a multi-billion dollar initiative to help fund moonshot projects and startups. The hope here is that its advances in artificial intelligence will soon surpass that of the United States.
And while the United States is planning cuts, Beijing may just achieve the upper hand over the course of the next few years.
Tech research firm Stratchery's founder, Ben Thompson, commented on how China has been ahead for years. He said "Quite frankly, the trope that China copies the U.S. hasn't been true for years, and in mobile it's the opposite: The U.S. often copies China. For the Facebook Messenger app, for example, the best way to understand their road map is to look at WeChat."
As e-commerce continues to grow, so does the increased need for secure digital payment processing. The Chinese government has also recently distributed a whitepaper that squarely focuses on Beijing's role in blockchain technology advances in the coming years. Within the report, it discusses how Beijing desires to set the standards for global blockchain technology implementation.
Beijing is also shining a spotlight on environmental technologies with its recently announced partnership with Jerusalem. Through this deal, the two cities will work together to produce collaborative efforts to help protect the environment. Israel's Environmental Protection Minister, Ze'ev Elkin, commented on the importance of working together with China and the private sector to help advance environment friendly technologies. He said "Cooperation can open up a rare window of opportunity for Israeli companies in the field of environmental technologies in China's internal market, whose importance and scope is impossible to overstate. It is our job as a government to help the private sector and not miss this opportunity."
Similar to that of Google's venture into autonomous cars, its Beijing counterpart Baidu made headlines this past April pushing the envelope a bit further. The company announced its plans to make its autonomous car technology open source to anyone that wants to use it. The hope here is that through the offering up of this intellectual property, Baidu will help Beijing propel itself forward at a quicker pace than the rest of the autonomous driving tech arena.
Whether it's artificial intelligence, blockchain technology or autonomous driving, it appears Beijing is well on its way to leading the technology charge.