China’s plan to build a national computing network to improve capacity is now under the spotlight at the country’s annual political gala, with the project generating speculation of an investment boom. The plan to channel computing resources from the country’s eastern regions to more impoverished western regions, was rolled out by China’s top state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) last month, aimed at increasing the country’s computing capacity. There will be eight integrated computing hubs in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the eastern Yangtze River Delta region, the southwestern Chengdu-Chongqing region, the southern Greater Bay region, and energy-rich areas that include Guizhou and Gansu provinces as well as the autonomous regions of Inner Mongolia and Ningxia Hui, according to the NDRC. Xiaomi and Geely CEOs propose different approaches for China’s EV charging needs The eight hubs will be the major junctions connecting the whole computing network, aimed at facilitating the country’s development in cloud computing and big data. Currently, most of China’s data centres sit in eastern regions, with many affected by land and energy shortages, Sun Wei, a senior official at the NDRC, told state media Xinhua. In contrast, western regions have ample renewable energy to support power-hungry data computing, he added. “This project will boost China’s data computing capacity, and also promote green development in the western regions,” said Sun. The NDRC did not specify the investment scale of the plan, but vice-chairman Lin Nianxiu said the national computing network was high on the list of “new infrastructure”, which is set to receive supportive government measures amid downward economic pressure . As Beijing trumpeted the importance of the new infrastructure push, multiple delegates at the “two sessions” political gathering have made suggestions as to how China should build the mega network. Yang Jie, CEO of telecoms giant China Mobile and a National People's Congress (NPC) delegate, said that transferring data to different regions might create network latency and cybersecurity issues. He suggested the government set up state-level research and development centres as well as hire top-notch tech talent to help “achieve breakthroughs in core technologies”. Ease curbs on international academic exchanges, says Chinese professor Liu Wei, founder and chief executive at PCI-Suntek Technology, which manufactures artificial intelligence products, also said the government should support fundamental research and improve energy efficiency at the computing hubs. The computing network is expected to redirect capital, talent, and technologies to the western part of the country, and provide a new growth engine for these regions, said Wan Xinheng, an NPC delegate representing Ningxia in northern China. In 2014, Wan led a Ningxia local government deal with Amazon Web Services and built a data centre to serve Chinese customers. Working with the US giant has boosted related industries and improved economic performance in the region, said Wan. China’s major tech giants such as Tencent Holdings, Huawei Technologies Co and Alibaba Group Holding’s cloud unit have all answered the call and vowed to build their own data computing centres in the network. Meanwhile, smaller firms operating in the industry have seen their share prices surge during the past few weeks amid market hype over the investment opportunities the project may generate. MCC Meili Cloud Computing Industry Investment Co, a company with data centres in Ningxia, saw its share price more than double after the NDRC announcement. Meanwhile, shares in Nanjing Canatal Data-Centre Environmental Tech Co, an air conditioning products provider for data centres, surged more than 30 per cent over the past month. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.