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Tech companies thrive in China

By FAN FEIFEI | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-02 04:54

China is catching up as a hub for the world's biggest internet companies, an internet trends report said.

The country is home to nine of the world's top 20 tech giants, while the United States has the other 11, according to the much-anticipated annual report from Mary Meeker, a partner at venture capital provider Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The nine companies included on the list are Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Tencent Holdings Ltd, Ant Financial Services Group, Baidu Inc, Xiaomi Corp, Didi Chuxing, JD.com, Meituan-Dianping and Toutiao.

Five years ago, China had just two of the world's biggest internet companies — Baidu and Tencent — by market value, while the US had nine.

While the US is still ahead, Meeker referred to China as "focused and organized and gaining," highlighting that with a quote from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who has predicted that China and the United States could be equal in artificial intelligence prowess within the next five years.

Meeker said the Chinese government is highly focused on developing AI, noting that China outpaces the US in the number of natural science and engineering degrees it awards annually, providing its tech companies with abundant trained labor.

The government has laid out plans to become the world leader in AI by 2030, with an aim of making the industry worth 1 trillion yuan ($156 billion).

Zhao Houlin, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, said that although the US owns the world's largest internet companies, China has a group of companies to compete with it, adding that China can even do better in the localization of AI technologies.

Moreover, the report said the growth of China's tech sector has made it the world's largest smartphone manufacturer by shipments. It holds 40 percent of the world's smartphone shipment market share, compared with 15 percent for the US.

China also rose rapidly in the mobile internet industry, with the number of mobile internet users reaching 753 million in 2017, up by 8 percent year-on-year, according to Meeker.

Short video platforms in China have witnessed massive growth, with more than 100 million people using related apps for 50 minutes per day on average, according to the report. Chinese internet users spent 3.2 billion hours online in March, with social networking accounting for 47 percent of the total and videos 22 percent.

Chinese are paying for online entertainment content, including online games, videos, music and livestreaming platforms, the report said. Online video platform iQiyi.com has seen massive subscriber growth, with paying subscribers surpassing 50 million.

China also continues to lead the world in mobile payment adoption. Alibaba's Alipay still dominates the mobile payments sector, accounting for 54 percent of the market, while WeChat Pay holds 38 percent. The country's total mobile payment volume reached nearly $16 trillion in 2017.

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