The dig­i­tal econ­omy gets some Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics

China Daily European Weekly - - Business -

On­line, con­nected and in­te­grated — eco­nomic sec­tors, sev­eral in­dus­tries and emerg­ing fields are now ac­tively rid­ing the tech­nol­ogy wave

the cap­i­tal of Fu­jian prov­ince, has un­veiled a D-ID sys­tem — a chip­based D-ID that en­ables res­i­dents to es­tab­lish or au­then­ti­cate their iden­tity through a unique smart­phone-based QR code that can be scanned.

“China has ar­rived at a turn­ing point in the ‘new era’ where cit­i­zens not only live in a phys­i­cal world but have a dig­i­tal life. Ev­ery­one can be a ‘dig­i­tal cit­i­zen’,” says Wang Jing, CEO of New­land Hi-Tech Group Co Ltd, a Chi­nese wire­less telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pany that de­vel­oped the Fuzhou D-ID sys­tem.

“Un­like the com­mon QR code, ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies have been ap­plied to this sys­tem to en­sure it can’t be copied or tam­pered with. The sys­tem has been di­vided into sev­eral zones, and all data is en­crypted for pri­vacy and se­cu­rity. Only cer­tain ter­mi­nals (works tations) at ad­min­is­tra­tive au­thor­i­ties can read the data,” she says.

D-ID is just one shin­ing ex­am­ple of how the dig­i­tal econ­omy is adding value to the real econ­omy in China.

“Dig­i­tal econ­omy is driven by deep in­te­gra­tion of the next gen­er­a­tion of in­for­ma­tion and tele­com tech­nolo­gies with the real econ­omy. It’s not only an im­por­tant part of build­ing a ‘smart so­ci­ety’, but a key driver of a dig­i­tal­ized, in­ter­net-en­abled and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence-pow­ered so­ci­ety,” says Chen Zhaox­iong, vice-min­is­ter of in­dus­try and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy.

Small won­der that China has made the de­vel­op­ment of the dig­i­tal econ­omy a top pri­or­ity. The gov­ern­ment has launched many ini­tia­tives in the past few years to­ward that end. These in­clude In­ter­net Plus, Made in China 2025, fur­ther pro­mo­tion of deep in­te­gra­tion of the in­ter­net, cloud com­put­ing, big data and AI with the real econ­omy, and build­ing the coun­try into a cy­ber-power.

The strong im­pe­tus has led to a boom in China’s dig­i­tal econ­omy.

Lat­est data from the China Academy of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Tech­nol­ogy show that the scale of the coun­try’s dig­i­tal econ­omy hit 27.2 tril­lion yuan ($4.31 tril­lion; 3.67 tril­lion euros; £3.22 tril­lion) last year, ac­count­ing for al­most 33 per­cent of the na­tion’s GDP (which was 82 tril­lion yuan in 2017, up by 6.9 per­cent year-on-year).

The on­go­ing process is see­ing ma­jor in­ter­net play­ers striv­ing to re­shape peo­ple’s liveli­hoods. They are re­vamp­ing the phys­i­cal con­sump­tion ex­pe­ri­ence and in­no­vat­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor us­ing novel tech­nolo­gies.

For in­stance, Meituan-Dian­ping, China’s largest provider of on-de­mand on­line ser­vices span­ning food de­liv­ery, ho­tel book­ings, travel and en­ter­tain­ment tick­et­ing, is in­te­grat­ing big data, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and cloud com­put­ing. This in­te­grated plat­form of­fers peo­ple all-in-one life ex­pe­ri­ences.

Peo­ple can find nearby restau­rants, re­serve ho­tels, or­der take-out or book a film ticket, all with a tap on a smart­phone screen. The com­pany also en­tered the ride-hail­ing sec­tor re­cently to link din­ing with trans­porta­tion, en­abling users to di­rectly book a taxi to where they have re­served a restau­rant ta­ble for lunch or din­ner.

“The ul­ti­mate test for dig­i­tal econ­omy’s ef­fec­tive­ness is whether or not it is serv­ing or­di­nary peo­ple’s life needs. We hope to serve a to­tal of 1 bil­lion peo­ple each day through tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions. We would like to help peo­ple to ‘eat bet­ter, live bet­ter’,” says Wang Xing, chair­man and CEO of Meituan-Dian­ping.

With 320 mil­lion ac­tive users of its plat­forms and more than 4 mil­lion mer­chants listed on it, the Bei­jing­based com­pany says it will be­gin trial op­er­a­tions of its driver­less de­liv­ery ve­hi­cles this year. It will also pro­mote the ser­vice on a large scale in 2019 to make the dream of 24-hour de­liv­ery a re­al­ity.

Be­sides the ser­vices sec­tor, the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor has been ben­e­fit­ing from the rise of the D-econ­omy as well.

New tech­nolo­gies and ini­tia­tives such as Made in China 2025 have helped up­grade China’s man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor.

Ma­jor cloud op­er­a­tors in­clud­ing China Aero­space Sci­ence and In­dus­try Corp and Sany Heavy In­dus­try Co Ltd are build­ing in­dus­trial in­ter­net plat­forms. The larger goal is to set up a net­work of com­bined, ad­vanced ma­chines with in­ter­net-con­nected sen­sors and big-data an­a­lyt­ics. Such a net­work will help com­pa­nies to bol­ster the pro­duc­tiv­ity, ef­fi­ciency and re­li­a­bil­ity of in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion.

China Aero­space Sci­ence and In­dus­try Corp, for in­stance, has of­fered en­ter­prises cloud-based tech­nol­ogy and prod­ucts on its in­dus­trial in­ter­net plat­form since 2015. Ear­lier data showed that its plat­form had at­tracted al­most 800,000 reg­is­tered en­ter­prises, in­clud­ing more than 3,000 for­eign com­pa­nies.

The dig­i­tal econ­omy has brought in its wake not just huge op­por­tu­ni­ties, but chal­lenges and po­ten­tial risks as well.

“In re­cent years, un­der­hand data trans­ac­tions have been ram­pant. An ar­ray of prob­lems in­clud­ing data leak­age, cy­ber-at­tacks and safety leaks such as Melt­down and Spec­tre have oc­curred, which have brought new chal­lenges,” says Zhang Wang, deputy di­rec­tor of the Cy­berspace Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China.

Faced with such chal­lenges, the coun­try is ex­pected to ac­cel­er­ate steps to­ward leg­is­la­tion for pro­mo­tion and reg­u­la­tion of the dig­i­tal econ­omy, to cre­ate a fair, or­derly, in­no­va­tive and fair mar­ket environment, Zhang says.

He adds that China should strengthen the in­for­ma­tion safety of key in­fra­struc­ture, per­sonal data and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty. Ac­cel­er­ated ef­forts are also needed to in­tro­duce re­lated poli­cies on data com­mer­cial­iza­tion and stan­dards on in­ter­net tech­nolo­gies, he says.

“In the fu­ture, we need to in­sist on open­ing-up to bol­ster co­op­er­a­tion and pro­mote glob­al­iza­tion of our en­ter­prises in the in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy sec­tor,” Zhang says.

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