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Yazhou Bay tech city showcases innovative spirit and fruits in Boao

By YUAN SHENGGAO | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-30

Sanya Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City, a key industrial park launched to empower the construction of Hainan Free Trade Port, is showcasing its latest achievements and diversified blueprints through a multidimensional and immersive exhibition. It acts as a parallel event to the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2023, from Tuesday to Friday, in Boao town of Qionghai city, South China's Hainan province.

Located in Sanya, a coastal city at the southern tip of Hainan island and popularly known as China's Hawaii, the Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City has been built in line with requirements of the master plan released in 2020 for the construction of Hainan Free Trade Port. This benchmark project is expected to let the island province lead the way in China's reform and opening-up in the new era.

Occupying a planned area of more than 69 square kilometers, the tech city has been endowed by the central government to carry out two strategic national missions: the development of deep-sea exploration technologies and promoting scientific and technological innovation for improved seed varieties, along with independent intellectual property rights to ensure national food security; and the co-development of general purpose technologies, such as those for life sciences and the digital economy, according to the tech city's administration.

By the end of January, it had accumulated 9,026 registered enterprises, including 1,310 in agriculture, 1,024 related to marine matters, 983 in high-tech areas and 1,298 in digital.

Items on the tech city's display at the Boao Dongyu Island Cultural Park, which is part of the Innovation and Development of Sanya Exhibition, include more than 20 models of leading equipment in marine science and technology. The model of Fendouzhe — "Striver" — the homemade manned submersible which made a record dive of 10,909 meters in 2020 in the Mariana Trench, the world's deepest, is an eye-catching exhibit that marks the country's first benchmark in deep-sea scientific research.

Also on display are replicas of Earth observation remote sensing satellites, conceptual and operating equipment such as vehicles for cruise sightseeing, submarine sightseeing, deep-sea operations, underwater cutting machines and an impressive demonstration of a new type of coral reef marine ranch, which is globally innovative and helps to purify seawater and enrich biodiversity.

The exhibition also unveils the tech city's latest scientific research achievements in seed breeding and its efforts in building a bridge for win-win international cooperation.

Visitors will have a chance to appreciate new agricultural derivative products of food, skin care, cosmetics and daily necessities. They will also have a chance to learn about spatio-temporal genomics technology, which has been independently developed by scientists based in the tech city, and will work as a powerful tool for understanding the embryonic development and spatio-temporal development of various species.

Yazhou Bay sits 248 km away from the South China Sea with a depth of 2,000 meters, making it possible for scientific research ships to go back and forth on the same day and can act as the best natural "lab" for deep-sea research, experiments and development.

The development of scientific and technological infrastructure and industrial application platforms, bases and centers for innovation projects is in full momentum, focusing on deep-sea equipment manufacturing, deep-sea compound resources and new energy, new materials and deep-sea industries, said officials of the tech city.

They said that a new highland for deep-sea technology innovation and industrialization is emerging at Yazhou Bay. The gathering of core technologies is expected to produce new scientific and technological breakthroughs that concentrate on "deep-sea entry, deep-sea exploration and deep-sea development".

Meanwhile, the tech city has made remarkable progress in building projects for innovation research on seed breeding, as well as the construction of a global transit base for animal and plant germplasm resources.

Off-season seed breeding in tropical Hainan, or Nanfan as it is known, started in the 1950s. Agricultural scientists regularly come to Sanya, Ledong and Lingshui between November and May to conduct seed breeding-related activities. The warm climate shortens the breeding cycle by at least half and more than 70 percent of China's seeds, or over 20,000 new varieties, have been bred through cultivation at Nanfan bases in southern Hainan, dubbed China's "Silicon Valley of seed breeding", according to the Hainan Provincial Nanfan Breeding Administration.

The Yazhou Bay Seed Laboratory, launched in May 2021 at the tech city, has built 10 public scientific research platforms. They include a large-scale instrument service center, germplasm resources molecular identification platform, Nanfan seed industry science and technology innovation center, a bank of core germplasm resources and the artificial climate chamber.

The tech city's administration said that the lab will function as a powerful innovation engine of the "Nanfan Silicon Valley" to help cultivate a complete high-level chain that links theoretical innovation with technology integration, seed-breeding design and industrial incubation, and carry out joint innovative research to tackle bottlenecks.

It said that the tech city is racing against time to accelerate the construction of key projects. The National (Sanya) Quarantine Inspection and Isolation Center (Phase I) and the National Nanfan Crops Phenotype Research Facility will be put into operation this year. Construction of the observation and research center for tropical agricultural ecosystems; the innovation center for soybean horticultural germplasm resources; and the industrial innovation platform for the protection, development and utilization of the South China Sea resources are scheduled to commence in the first half of 2023.

The industrial park will continue to upgrade its business environment and optimize measures to attract more high-quality enterprises and projects, said officials with the Yazhou Bay sci-tech city.


A bird's-eye view of Sanya Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City. LI TIANPING/FOR CHINA DAILY