It’s tomorrow (June 21) in Hong Kong but Werner Vogels dropped the news tonight in Cloud City plans for AWS to open a new region in Hong Kong sometime in 2018.
According to Werner’s blog, he is “excited to announce our plans to open a new AWS Region in Hong Kong! The new region will give Hong Kong-based businesses, government organizations, non-profits, and global companies with customers in Hong Kong, the ability to leverage AWS technologies from data centers in Hong Kong. The new AWS Asia Pacific (Hong Kong) Region will have three Availability Zones and be ready for customers for use in 2018.”
As Cloud City Ventures has covered earlier this year, non-Chinese public cloud companies operate differently in Mainland China. The expansion into Hong Kong for AWS will surely be accompanied with diplomacy as much as the AWS technology itself.
This announcement by AWS of a new Hong Kong region is just ten days away from a very significant date in Hong Kong history. On July 1, Hong Kong celebrates the 20th anniversary of the handover from the UK back to China. Hong Kong has been preparing a celebration and for a very important policy speech by Chinese president Xi Jinping regarding the future of Hong Kong.
As part of the return to Chinese administration, Hong Kong was given Special Administrative Status (“one-country two-systems”) until 2047. Policy experts are carefully listening to Xi’s speech to get insight into Hong Kong’s future and many technology companies in China and elsewhere want a say in Hong Kong’s system. AWS analysts like myself will be listening for clues in Xi’s speech as to whether technology companies will continue to operate under the older “system” of Hong Kong or be subject to the rules more similar to mainland China.
Hong Kong To Remain Silicon Valley-like Haven for Tencent and other AWS competitors?
Bloomberg reported this week on Tencent’s CEO (our Tencent Cloud coverage when they expanded to the US), Pony Ma also wants to join the debate on the future technology in Hong Kong:
— Bloomberg Technology (@technology) June 19, 2017
According the Bloomberg article, “In an unusual move, Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s billionaire founder Pony Ma has chosen to convene a summit of government officials and business chieftains in Hong Kong days before the 20th anniversary of its return to China. The head of the country’s biggest corporation wants to fire up a debate about an issue that’s fomented protests and fears about Beijing’s agenda: how to entwine the self-run former British colony with the mainland.”
“The normally publicity-shy Ma has chosen this juncture to again tout his proposal of setting up a Silicon Valley-like haven for technology and innovation linking Hong Kong and Macau with the southern province of Guangdong, Tencent’s home base.”
You can be sure that AWS announcing this expansion to Hong Kong won’t go unnoticed by the Chinese leadership and Chinese technology companies. I will be watching closely to how they respond.