China banking on digital to boost economic growth

China banking on digital to boost economic growth

The digital economy will play a pivotal role in upgrading traditional industries and so speeding up economic development during China’s 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), industry experts are predicting.

They said that core industries in the digital economy will account for 10% of GDP, up from 7.8% in 2020, according to the plan unveiled by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, earlier this month.

Innovative digital technologies like big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence are increasingly being integrated into all other sectors of economic and social development. This is injecting new impetus into global economic recovery, as well as China’s, the State Council said.

“Facilitating the growth of the digital economy is of vital importance to cultivate new driving forces, boost high-quality and innovation-driven development and effectively address the unbalanced development in society,” said Long Haibo, a senior researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Long also said that more effort was needed to strengthen data security and the protection of personal information.

 

Eight key areas for development

The 14th Five-Year Plan details key tasks in eight areas, including upgrading digital infrastructure and expanding international cooperation with other countries on the world’s digital economy.

The eight areas are quantum information; network communications; integrated circuits; key software; big data; artificial intelligence; blockchain; and new materials.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry association, said: “The emerging digital technologies represented by 5G, big data and AI have played a critical role in enhancing operational efficiency, cutting costs and improving core competitiveness of traditional industries amid economic downward pressure.”

Xiang praised the government’s intensified efforts to develop the digital economy, which he said will inject fresh impetus into the country’s economic growth and speed up digital and intelligent upgrades in enterprises. The in-depth integration of digital technologies with the real economy will further reinforce China’s advantages in global supply chains, he said.

Meanwhile, Zhou Hongyi, founder of cybersecurity company 360 Security Group, said the digital economy has become a major driver of economic recovery amid the Covid-19 pandemic and network security provides a good foundation for boosting the digital economy.

Zhou said internet-driven companies should collaborate with traditional industries, and leverage their advantages in technologies, talent and capital to support the latter’s digital transformation.

  • China’s digital economy was worth nearly $5.4 trillion in 2020, up 9.6% year-on-year, according to a white paper released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank.