The city of Chengdu is the first Chinese municipal government to make its way to SXSW, where culture, cutting-edge technology and ideas from around the world come together.
An ice cube running smoothly on a circular track, sometimes upside down in defiance of gravity, was a show-stopper.
Throughout the day, the display attracted a steady crowd in the Chengdu pavilion at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) trade show, which opened on March 10 in Austin, Texas.
The demonstration was showing off high-temperature, superconducting maglev (magnetic levitation) technology at work, as developed by Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu.
The city of Chengdu is the first Chinese municipal government to make its way to SXSW, where culture, cutting-edge technology and ideas from around the world come together.
Chengdu XGimi Technology showcased its innovative high-performance projectors. Codoon brought its array of smart sports equipment, which incorporates wearables and mobile apps to help people stay active and organize sports communities.
The city also brought along its art, cultural products, and cuisine to the festival, grabbing many a visitor's eye — more than 10 Chengdu companies and organizations in all were featured.
Chengdu and Austin also held a city forum on March 8 to get to know each other better.
“西南偏南”多元创新大会和艺术节
Zhang Yingming, the vice-director-general of publicity for the CPC Chengdu municipal committee, told the audience that as a city rich in history and culture, Chengdu is also a hub of innovation, boasting five unicorn enterprises (private startups with values over $1 billion).
According to Zhang, Chengdu's current plan is to develop the city into a mega-center for cuisine arts, travel, sports, music, and exhibitions — all components akin to SXSW's offerings.
"By coming here, Chengdu can certainly learn some great ideas, as well as attract some attention to our city," Zhang said.
Zeng Dengdi, director of cultural industries of Chengdu, pointed out the parallels between Chengdu and Austin: both are member cities of the World Culture Forum, both are located in southwestern parts of their respective countries and both share a lot of similarities.
"I hope we can benefit from cultural and technological exchanges between the two cities," Zeng said. "We hope to attract innovative companies from Austin to look for opportunities in Chengdu. I am sure Austin and SXSW will give us a lot of inspiration."
Austin Mayor Steve Adler was pleased to see the large delegation from Chengdu at SXSW. "Chengdu is a center of innovation and forward thinking in China. That's how we see ourselves in Austin," he said.
"When you have exchanges like these, the more people that are involved, the better chances of an ongoing relationship; the greater the personal contacts developed, the better the network opportunities. Such a large delegation is very encouraging for a future of working together," Adler said.
Adler said he is planning to visit China and certainly wants to include Chengdu on his itinerary. He hopes the ongoing conversation between the two cities will lead to forming a friendship relationship between the two cities.
Business ties already exist between Chengdu and Austin. Dell Technologies opened a global site in Chengdu High-Tech Zone in 2013. Dell now has several operations in Chengdu, from manufacturing and R&D to development of IT professionals, according to John Howard, policy director at Dell.
"China is important to us. Chengdu is important to us," Howard said. "Under our China 4.0 policy, Dell will invest another $125 billion in China over the next five years, creating a million jobs directly or indirectly."
Consul General of China in Houston Li Qiangmin said that Austin is strong in innovation and very attractive to China. "This is the third year that China is participating in SXSW, and Chinese participants have doubled to more than 100 compared to last year. I am confident more and more Chinese will come to SXSW," Li said.

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