China Resilience: China's booming digital economy gives boost to international cooperation

Updated: December 22, 2022 Source: Belt and Road Portal
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A staff member displays an AR device for information about cultural relics at the China International Digital Economy Expo 2021 in Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province, Sept. 7, 2021. (Xinhua/Jin Haoyuan)

China has been implementing the strategy of building the country's strength in cyberspace and big data, accelerating the digital industrialization and industrial digitalization, and stimulating the vitality of the digital economy in recent years. Remarkable achievements have been made in the dynamic development of China's digital economy, playing an increasingly prominent role in guiding and supporting economic and social development.

The China Internet Development Report 2022 released during the 2022 World Internet Conference Wuzhen Summit shows that the scale of China's digital economy came to 45.5 trillion yuan in 2021, accounting for 39.8 percent of China's GDP.

Today, digital technology, as a leading force in the world's scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, is increasingly integrated into the whole process of economic and social development in all fields, giving rise to new forms and modes of businesses, and profoundly changing the way of production, lifestyle and social governance.

Moreover, China's dynamism in the digital economy in recent years has greatly boosted international cooperation on the digital economy.

— Giving rise to new forms and modes of business

At "The Light of Internet" Expo during the 2022 World Internet Conference Wuzhen Summit, cutting-edge technologies that have profoundly changed people's lives enjoyed high popularity among participants, such as airship drones that can operate in the air for a long time, charging piles that can be easily used through mini-programs, and smart helmets that can help food delivery riders identify risks.

At Epson's booth, a pair of augmented reality glasses grabbed the attention of plenty of participants. "The view is vivid. It looks like a three-dimensional blue and white porcelain," a participant said after viewing the pattern on the wall with the augmented reality glasses.

Li Na, product manager of intelligent glasses at Epson (China) Co., Ltd., said that the glasses are increasingly used in amusement parks, art galleries, museums and other tourist attractions. It can display 360-degree videos and augmented reality content for tourists. In other countries, Epson's intelligent glasses are also used to solve real-life problems, such as displaying dialogue text for the hearing impaired and real-time subtitles for opera house audiences.

The digital consumption of life services has become one of the major drivers of China's consumption growth, and the market scale of online car hailing and food delivery continues to expand. Digital employment has become an important source of employment opportunities. The development of the digital economy has produced new business forms and modes such as digital collections, and given birth to jobs such as internet marketers and online delivery workers.

Li Yingxin, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies, said that over the past year, great achievements have been made in benefiting people through digitalization and building a digital society. In this way, new progress will be made in optimizing the intelligent and convenient public services, innovating models of urban and rural development and governance, and building a more balanced and inclusive digital society.

— Driving the change of production mode

"The whole society is comprised of data, supported by digital infrastructure, and covered by industrial digitalization." Zhang Yong, chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Alibaba Group, said that the development of digital economy can be divided into three stages, including digital circulation, digital logistics, and digital computing, which has always been deeply rooted in the real economy.

Enabling the digitalization of traditional industries through the integration of digital technology and real economy will surely channel energy into the economic development. Typical scenarios and key industry applications of "5G+ Industrial Internet" have increased, and new models such as digital factories and smart mines have emerged.

"To ensure digitalization and industrial upgrading, enterprises should prioritize those digital application scenarios that produce high value. Leading enterprises should play a demonstration and leading role in this regard." Liu Jian, senior vice president of ZTE Corporation, said that ZTE has dug into typical scenarios. Taking manufacturing as an example, its Nanjing Binjiang Factory is working as a practice base for 5G intelligent manufacturing pilots. After more than two years of transformation, Binjiang Factory has secured the overall optimization from single point application to production line process, and gradually expanded from production line application to the overall operation of workshops and parks, covering all kinds of businesses, making 5G intelligent manufacturing a reality.

Through industrial digitalization, enterprises can ensure intelligent control, optimize operations and production organization, and upgrade industrial chain and supply chain. As of June, 55.7 percent of key processes of China's industrial enterprises above designated size were digitally controlled, and the popularity rate of digital R&D tools reached 75.1 percent.

China has more than 40 million micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), accounting for more than 99 percent of market entities. However, most small and micro enterprises are still a long way from being digital. MSMEs are faced with five dilemmas on the path towards digitalization: lack of funds, talent, technology, results and guarantee.

In the middle of this year, in line with the development trend of "Software as a Service (SaaS)", Beijing Qihu Keji Co., Ltd. launched the "Enterprise Security Cloud" service, which is targeted at the security capability of serving the country and is free for MSMEs to use, benefiting nearly one million MSMEs. Such convenient software services can help MSMEs achieve digitalization. Through such low-cost and even free digital security services, MSMEs can identify current digital security loopholes, and then improve their digital security systems.

Data is a key factor of production for the development of digital economy, a national basic strategic resource, and an important engine for high-quality economic and social development. In 2021, China's data output came to 6.6ZB, with a year-on-year increase of 29.4 percent, ranking the second in the world.

— Promoting international cooperation in the digital era

The global digital economy is an open and closely interconnected whole. China is embracing international cooperation in the digital economy with an active and open attitude.

The digital economy is becoming a new growth driver of China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation. This year, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) came into force, further boosting regional economic integration and industrial chain integration and upgrading. Over the past six months, China has accelerated regional connectivity with digital technologies, and the digital ecosystem represented by cross-border e-commerce and cross-border payment has taken shape.

"In fact, Chinese high-tech enterprises have made considerable progress in building ASEAN digital trade infrastructure and platforms." After helping Southeast Asian partners develop e-wallets, Ant Group launched its Alipay+ global cross-border payment technology solution to help them tackle new challenges in the cross-border trade, said Gu Qingyang, associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. In June 2022, ANEXT Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ant Group, opened in Singapore, specializing in serving MSMEs in Singapore and other ASEAN countries, especially those engaged in cross-border trade.

In addition, in November 2022, Huawei Chairman Liang Hua announced at the 2022 CSD Forumthat Huawei had officially joined the Partner 2 Connect Digital Alliance of International Telecommunication Union. Huawei will ensure access to the digital society for about 120 million people in remote areas in more than 80 countries by 2025. It will also unlock the business value and social value of ubiquitous connectivity in the digital economy era through ICT (information and communication technology) innovation for sustainable development.

Editor: Jiang Feifan