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Xinhua Credit
Industry

China sees booming digital economy amid epidemic

April 02, 2020


Abstract : Cloud technology, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and other digital technologies have been increasingly applied in business, education, manufacturing, infrastructure among other sectors in China in the fight against the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19).

BEIJING, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Cloud technology, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and other digital technologies have been increasingly applied in business, education, manufacturing, infrastructure among other sectors in China to fight against the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19).

The digital technologies deployed during the period are bringing new opportunities to enterprises to embrace new business formats.

Governments at all levels have made efforts to bolster digital economy as it contributes a significant share to the economic growth.

-- Propelling production resumption

China is seeing accelerated production resumption. About 98.6 percent of major industrial firms nationwide have restarted work as of March 28, according to China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on March 30. Meanwhile, 76 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises have resumed production, said Xin Guobin, vice minister of the MIIT, at a press briefing.

One of the main reasons why China is able to effectively combating COVID-19 and resume production lies in the application of new generation information technologies such as big data, AI and blockchain, said Xie Shaofeng, spokesperson of MIIT.

DingTalk took swift actions at the outbreak of the COVID-19 to roll out its online office guideline and offered the video meeting functions capable of accommodating 302 attendees free of charge to companies. In such a way, the intelligent mobile office platform under the tech giant Alibaba empowered 10 million enterprises and 200 million workers to resume production.

In the education area, China launched a national online learning platform to keep studies going for its hundreds of millions of students who have been confined to their homes amid the epidemic. Statistics showed that as of March 24, a total of 1,917 lessons have been launched for primary, secondary and senior high school students, with online views and visits standing at 994 million and 775 million respectively.

In the field of manufacturing, intelligent manufacturing backed by industrial Internet and AI is better at withstanding the epidemic and pick up production at a faster pace.

With a high level of automation, intelligent factories outperform traditional ones as they employ only half number of the workers hired by traditional manufacturers but exhibit 2.5 to 3 times of production efficiency, said Kong Liang, vice president of Inspur Group, a leading cloud computing and big data service provider in China.

By using 5G to realize multi-party coordination, cities in east China's Jiangxi province have worked together to launch an online investment promotion event attended online by 1,200-odd enterprises, with the number of projects signed standing at 118 and total investment value reaching 193.38 billion yuan.

-- Bringing new opportunities to enterprises

The digital approaches helping fight the epidemic have turned into enablers that bring new opportunities to enterprises to change their business patterns and ride on digital economy.

Suning.com saw soaring sales by combining the power of e-commerce and live streaming. The retail giant on March 15 launched 2,574 live streaming shows attracting over 30 million online views and witnessed a 286 percent year-on-year surge in the sales of home appliances. As of 8:00 p.m. that day, Suning's sales of clothes dryers, washing and drying machines skyrocketed by more than 2,059 percent month on month.

The benefits of digital technologies can also be exemplified by the four fold daily transaction volume at a fresh food e-commerce platform during the epidemic period, the increase in the record selling of 1,068 houses within just 10 minutes after the first VR sales department of the real estate agent ke.com started operation, and the 600 percent surge in the number of people using nearly 7,000 audio guide products for cloud-based sightseeing offered by Ctrip, an online travel agency in China.

Online consumption and intelligent economy have hedged certain negative impacts of the epidemic on traditional consumption and industries, while generating opportunities for high-quality growth, noted Sheng Laiyun, deputy head of the National Bureau of Statistics.

The integration of information technology and digital transformation has yielded huge benefits, said Wu Hao, director with the Department of High-Tech Industry under the National Development and Reform Commission. He expected industries would move faster in transforming toward digitalization.

-- Crafting new driver for economy

China is working to bolster digital economy by accelerating building new infrastructure such as 5G base stations and data centers to further boost economic development.

The digital economy has played a role as a new driving force in China's economic growth. The country's digital economy generated 35.4 percent of GDP last year, estimated at 35 trillion yuan, according to data from China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) of MIIT.

Digital technologies can speed up industrial upgrading, economic transformation, and high-quality development, as they can enhance the efficiency of resource allocation and optimize economic structure, said Pan Helin, executive dean with the institute of digital economics at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.

Chinese governments at all levels have rolled out policies to nurture new engines for digital economy.

The central government attached great importance to accelerating the construction of new infrastructure, boosting "internet plus" and new business formats, supporting the migration of traditional industries to the cloud, and developing life services featuring online and offline integration.

Shandong among other provinces and cities is moving faster to develop 5G, AI, industrial internet, IoT and other new infrastructure, pressing ahead the transformation of traditional transportation, energy, water conservancy and municipal infrastructure so as to better support investment promotion as well as economic and social development.

Efforts will be made to accelerate the building of digital economy innovation development pilot areas, nurture a host of digital economy industries with great job creation capacity, and promote the sustainable development of platform economy and sharing economy, noted Gao Gao, deputy secretary general of China's National Development and Reform Commission. (Edited by Su Dan with Xinhua Silk Road, silviasu07@163.com)

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