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China takes its place among the digital elite

By CHENG YU/OUYANG SHIJIA | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-10 09:37

A new report places the country as one of biggest contributors to the world's digital economy, while the nation leads the way in 5G development

An interactive 5G robot at the China Telecom stand at the Light of the Internet Exposition during the fifth World Internet Conference in the river town of Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, Nov 6, 2018. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/chinadaily.com.cn]

China and the United States are the top contributors to the world's digital economy, which totaled $12.9 trillion globally last year, according to a report released at the Fifth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, which ended on Friday.

The findings are part of the World Internet Development Report 2018, an industry index showing the world's latest internet developments, said Yang Shuzhen, head of the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies.

"The report aims to provide a comprehensive picture of the world's latest achievements in internet technologies and applications," he added.

According to the report, China, with the largest number of internet users and the world's top e-commerce and mobile payment markets, ranked No 2 among 45 countries in the index, which gauges measurements from internet infrastructure to information technology.

Over the past few years, China's internet industries have rapidly developed into a digital force.

"Embracing the latest technological revolution and industrial transformation, we've seen a surge of internet innovation and applications in cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, quantum computing and next-generation mobile communication," said Zhuang Rongwen, minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, during this year's World Internet Conference.

"The booming new trend also accelerates the cross-integration of biotechnology, new energy and new material technologies. Today's world faces unprecedented opportunities, thus we need to join hands to promote the innovative development of the internet."

Data from the China Internet Network Information Center backs the booming internet trend. Statistics show that China's netizen population hit a new high, reaching 802 million users by the end of June this year.

Zhuang noted that the internet has become the most innovative and dynamic sector, profoundly changing production and people's daily lives.

The rapid growth of online industry is leading the digital economy to play an increasingly bigger role in the country's economic development.

The report showed that the country's digital economy has contributed 32.9 percent to the country's total GDP and comprised 55 percent of its GDP growth.

Capitalizing on this surge in progress, China has gained momentum in information technology and leads the way in the development of 4G and 5G networks.

The nation was among the world's top five countries with the most 4G users, while its 5G research and development put China in the world's top tier, according to the report.

"China is at a key period in the commercialization of 5G," said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice-minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, at a forum during the World Internet Conference.

At least 10 times faster than 4G, 5G will allow for superfast downloading of movies, and enable a string of applications such as self-driving cars, remote surgeries and streaming virtual reality games.

China fell behind in the initial rollout of 4G and 3G licenses, taking several years more to issue them compared with other pioneers.

However, when it comes to 5G, China will be a pioneer and among the first batch of countries to issue 5G licenses in the world-most likely by the end of this year or the first half of 2020-according to Wang Zhiqin, vice-president of government think tank, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.

"The great leap of mobile communication and technology over the past 32 years is building an expressway for linking people across the world," said Chen.

He also used the conference to call for global efforts to promote developing the cutting-edge technologies, including pushing forward 5G standards and applications.

By now, China has neared the completion of its third-phase of 5G testing, thanks to the participation of both domestic companies such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and foreign enterprises such as Ericsson AB.

As a case in point, Ericsson worked alongside the China Mobile Research Institute and US tech giant, Intel, earlier this year, to complete a 5G call that was compliant with cellular industry standards and specifications. The telecom call was the world's first such test.

"5G is open for business," said Sinisa Krajnovic, vice-president and head of digital services of Northeast Asia for Ericsson, at a forum held on Friday.

"5G is here. The need for 5G is here, both in the consumer sector, like mobile broadband, and in various cases among numerous industries. Its business potential has already been identified and many more will follow," he said.

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