Asia Times (May 14) reported that Guizhou province had established massive, underground online state-of-the-art data banks where racks of servers are leased to tech giants ranging from Alibaba to Apple. It said Tech firms looking for secure locations for their vital storage and backup systems say Guizhou’s cool climate, clean air and abundance of hydropower appeal together with Guizhou’s combination of natural advantages which can help lower operating costs and energy use since storage devices on an industrial scale can use as much electricity as a small city. According to Guizhou Daily, Guizhou’s provincial authorities pooled capital and founded Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Corp in 2014 and tasked it with building and running “big data parks” across the province. Part of the hefty outlays on infrastructure and connectivity were funded by Alibaba. The province’s then-party chief Chen Min'er was a big supporter of the Chinese e-commerce behemoth when he served as deputy governor of Zhejiang. Tencent, owner of China’s app WeChat, also later chipped in with investments. Tencent founder Pony Ma once told Chen Min'er that the firm’s 300,000 servers, routers and hard-disk drives housing some tens of petabytes in storage capacity would enjoy “natural air-conditioning” in a 470,000-square-meter cavernous facility built on a concrete slab deep underneath mountains. Pony Ma also said that its data centres would be “nuclear attack-proof”. China’s tech giants including Huawei, Foxconn and the “big three” SOE telecoms carriers, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom have also located their servers in Guizhou. The iPhone-maker has spent $1 billion and commissioned Guizhou-Cloud to operate dedicated data centres for its iCloud services for mainland Chinese users.  

(Comment: The “data parks” were brought together in a 15 billion yuan (US$2.33 billion) national pilot zone for Guizhou in 2016, with the express purpose of implementing Beijing’s laws and policy initiatives to retain online data, regulate its use and presumably centrally analyse it.)

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