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The Silicon Valley of China

On my 3,000-mile journey east to west along China's Route 312, I stumble across the giant city of Hefei. It is almost unknown outside China, but it aspires to be the country's Silicon Valley by 2020, and its aspirations are emblematic of China's future

By Rob Gifford   December 2007

In the US, there are nine cities with more than 1m inhabitants. In China, there are 49. You can be travelling across China, arrive in a city that is twice the size of Houston, and think: I’ve never even heard of this place. That is how it is for many foreign visitors to Hefei (population 4.7m). I have been travelling to China as a journalist, or living here, for nearly 20 years and visited Hefei (pronounced Huh-fay) for the first time only last year for the book I have just written about the new China. There had never been any…

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