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How China achieved a technological revolution

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-09-26 10:56
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Advanced rail transit in the high-end manufacturing and green energy exhibition area at the 23rd China International Industry Fair, Shanghai, Sept 19, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

China's gross domestic product increased from $360.86 billion in 1990 to $1.21 trillion in 2000 until it reached $17.96 trillion in 2022. The size of the Chinese economy has grown by about 49 times since 1990 and about 15 times since 2000, and it is the second-largest global economy after the United States.

China's remarkable advancement in the technology sector contributed to its economic growth. A report by Harvard University released in 2022 noted China's technological progress in several vital fields, such as artificial intelligence, electronic chips, quantum computing, biotechnology, wireless information science and green energy.

This technological boom had few parallels in countries worldwide in recent decades, akin to the First Industrial Revolution and its significant changes in various aspects of social, economic, political and cultural life. Indeed, the technological revolution that China is currently undertaking is a prelude to the fourth industrial revolution. This tremendous and rapid technological development can provide a role model not only for developing countries but also for developed countries. Many lessons can be learned from this rapid technological boom in China.

First, it invested in scientific research. China has allocated substantial financial resources to support innovation, inventions and technology development, especially in artificial intelligence, quantum computing and others. China has significantly increased spending on research and development over the years, with its total expenditure on research and development exceeding 3 trillion yuan ($418.2 billion) in 2022, up 10.1 percent year-on-year, constituting 2.54 percent of its GDP.

Second, it invested in digital infrastructure. Advanced technology needs infrastructure and a digital economy to attract investments and progress in technological development.

Third, China changed the structure of its economy. The country entered the world of technology and built an advanced digital economy, which quickly paved the way for it to reach global leadership in advanced technology. From 2016 to 2022, the scale of China's digital economy increased by $4.1 trillion, with a compound annual growth rate of 14.2 percent. China's digital economy amounted to $7.1 trillion in 2021, ranking second after the United States.

Fourth, it encouraged startups and pioneered innovation. China created an entrepreneurial environment that encouraged innovation and inventions, leading to the emergence of many startups in advanced technology. China ranked second globally with 301 unicorn companies, or startups valued at more than $1 billion in 2021, with 74 new companies added from the previous year.

Fifth, China enhanced economic growth and increased GDP through advanced technology. China has used advanced technology in manufacturing and increased its reliance on e-commerce, which has improved economic growth, increased GDP and created new job opportunities.

Sixth, it invested in green energy technology. China invested in green energy to avoid environmental problems such as global warming, acid rain and environmental pollution to achieve sustainable development and address environmental challenges.

Seventh, China boosted technological security. It expanded technology security by developing cybersecurity strategies and protecting critical and sensitive information.

Eighth, it established many research laboratories. The East Asian country created laboratories in artificial intelligence, information technology, space technology and biotechnology. One of these laboratories is the Baidu Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, considered one of the world's most important and largest artificial intelligence laboratories.

China's unique experience has led to its advanced position in several high-tech fields. This will boost economic growth and improve living standards, establishing it as a global center of technological expertise.

Editor's note: Ayman Omar is director of the Ishraq Center for Studies in Tripoli, Lebanon, and an economic researcher.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Xinhua News Agency.

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