One of China’s poorest provinces wants to be a tech hub

A ROBOT taller than the Arc de Triomphe towers over a new theme park on the edge of Guiyang, the capital of the southern province of Guizhou. Attendants at Oriental Science Fiction Valley dress in blue-and-silver space suits. They greet visitors with salutes used by the Vulcans in “Star Trek”. The main attraction is an indoor rollercoaster. It simulates an air battle over a futuristic city with the help of virtual-reality headsets that are handed out to every rider. Outside, a troop of black-clad security guards armed with big sticks adds a genuine air of menace.

Such space-age fantasy appears incongruous in Guizhou. The mountainous region is one of China’s poorest provinces (see map). More than 4m of its 35m inhabitants live on less than $1.90 a day, according to the government. In 2016 less than 45% of them used the internet. Five years ago, however, Guizhou started selling itself as a good place for big companies to store vast reservoirs of data. Now it is experiencing a tech boom. Beneath a…Continue reading

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