First launched in 1999, the China Hi-Tech Fair (CHTF) in Shenzhen has prospered into a well-known international high-tech event to become the city's name card.
Prior to the fair, the litchi festival, an annual promotion for the city's litchi exports, topped the work agenda of the then Shenzhen government.
While the litchi festival was no more than a local celebration of litchi harvest, the CHTF, co-sponsored by nine ministries and academies and the municipal government, is becoming an international gathering for big names in high-tech industries. The upgrade is not just a natural result of the city's and national economic development, but shows Shenzhen leaders' foresight and sagacity.
In 1998, the tide of information economy swept across China and many cities began to invest heavily in developing their own high-tech industries. As a pilot city of reform and opening-up in China, Shenzhen knew it could maintain its superiority in the new round of competition only through reform.
After thorough investigation and elaborate analysis, the then city leaders decided to terminate the litchi festival and undertook to plan an annual fair focusing on science and technology instead.
With the unswerving efforts of the city officials, Shenzhen finally got approval from the Central Government as the regular venue for the China Hi-Tech Fair, the largest of its kind in Chinese history.
According to statistics, more than 50,000 high-tech items from 15,765 exhibitors were displayed at the first five fairs, with a total trade volume of US$50.45 billion.
The fair has greatly spurred the high-tech industry in Shenzhen, now home to 673 high-tech firms. In 2003, the city's high-tech industrial value reached 248.2 billion yuan (US$30 billion), up 45.2 percent over the previous year.
The CHTF has become an important part in Shenzhen's social and economic development, as it will greatly enhance the city's comprehensive quality and increase the speed of buiding an international city, said Shenzhen Party Secretary Li Hongzhong.
"The China Hi-Tech Fair has become an important window for the high-tech industries in China to open to the outside world," said Wu Bangguo, now chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, at the opening ceremony of the 2000 fair.