Tencent another leading Chinese technology company is dedicated to serving as a digital assistant for all walk of life. File Photo: IOL
Tencent another leading Chinese technology company is dedicated to serving as a digital assistant for all walk of life. File Photo: IOL

The rise of Chinese digital economy

By Wesley Diphoko Time of article published Oct 24, 2019

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CAPE TOWN – In China, the digital economic development has become a key driver of the national economy, contributing 67.9 percent of China’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth last year.

Data from China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) indicates that aggregates of China’s digital economy in 2018 registered 31.3 trillion yuan, up 20.9 percent year on year and accounting for 34.8 per cent of the GDP. 

According to the Belt and Road Weekly journal, this has been made possible by a combination of factors that include local government policies that support the digital economic development, Chinese leading technology companies as well as international co-operation.

Local government policies in provinces

Zhejiang Province has prioritized digital economic growth on the top of its development agenda and rolled out a series of measures to promote intelligent manufacturing and industrial internet. 

Fujian Province mulls accelerating the construction of digital infrastructure, the sharing of government data, the development and utilization of information resources. Guangdong Province strives to take advantage of local data resources, strong industrial base, and a wide range of application scenarios so as to transform itself into a powerhouse of manufacturing, network, and the digital economy. 

Chinese provinces and cities are also open to collaboration in the digital sectors. For example, Shandong Province has deepened its cooperation with Japan and Republic of Korea (ROK) in electronic information manufacturing, intelligent manufacturing, Internet of Vehicles (IOVs), cross-border e-commerce, digital contents, smart retailing, and other key areas. 

The province has made efforts to build digital economy cooperation parks to attract IT firms of Japan and the ROK to establish regional headquarters and R&D centres in Shandong. 

Likewise, Yunnan Province has signed multiple project agreements with the Thai government and enterprises to co-develop intelligent transportation, agricultural IoT, smart tourism, and smart healthcare. 


Chinese technology companies are also an integral part of the rise of Chinese digital economy. They have witnessed explosive growth in new industries and new business formats. 

As a pioneer of artificial intelligence (AI) in China, Baidu has showcased its technology capabilities in various fields. In the financial sector, it has entered cooperation with China Guangfa Bank, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, China UMS, and Taikang Insurance Group, aiming to jointly push forward the development of smart finance.

In terms of smart life, Baidu has worked with Haier Group, a home appliance giant in China, to build new models of the smart home. It has also partnered with a dozen of leading home appliance manufacturers and real estate enterprises to build a smart home connectivity alliance. 

Tencent another leading Chinese technology company is dedicated to serving as a digital assistant for all walk of life, it has leveraged its WeChat public account platform, mini-program, mobile payment, social ads, enterprise WeChat, big data + cloud computing + AI, and security capacities to provide enterprises with new types of digital infrastructure, with the focus on the digital transformation of government services, consumption, production services, health, and environmental protection.

China also has a global tech giant based in Shenzhen which based on its merits in sectors such as cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), AI, and 5G,  is targeting at empowering cities to build a digital China by providing comprehensive smart city solutions together with its partners. 

Huawei's smart city solutions have been applied in many sectors, including government affairs, education, transportation, healthcare, energy, and have helped more than 160 cities in over 40 countries become smarter. Domestically, Huawei has offered top-level designs for over 60 cities, such as Beijing, Shenzhen, Guilin, and help them carry out the schemes.

International co-operation

China continues to advance the construction of the digital Silk Road. To date, China has signed a memorandum of understanding with 16 countries to jointly build the digital Silk Road. It has initiated the Belt and Road Digital Economy International Cooperation Initiative in partnership with seven countries and built 30-plus cross-border land cables and some 10 international marine cables with countries involving in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 


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