Digital economy and platforms spur growth in China

Despite downward pressure on the economy, prominent domestic high-tech and internet-based companies are promoting wide-ranging applications.


The stand of Alibaba Group during an industry expo in Fuzhou, Fujian province. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

December 29, 2022

BEIJING – Firms say key meeting’s emphasis will bolster innovation, competitiveness

China’s latest push to the digital economy and platform companies is expected to spur economic growth, boost market confidence and help private enterprises to bolster technological innovation, company executives and experts said on Wednesday.

Despite downward pressure on the economy and external challenges, prominent domestic high-tech and internet-based companies remain optimistic about China’s economic prospects, and are promoting wide-ranging applications of digital technologies, they said.

Their assessment emerged in response to the tone-setting Central Economic Work Conference that ended on Dec 16. The conference stressed the need to vigorously develop the digital economy and improve the level of normalized supervision. It also called for support for platform companies so they could bolster economic growth, create more jobs and better compete on the global stage.

“The digital economy has become a main battlefield for global competition, and also serves as a new driving force for economic growth, with long-term strategic significance. We look forward to participating in the development of the digital economy,” said Chen Long, chairman of Alibaba Group’s sustainability steering committee, and president of the company’s strategic planning business.

Chen said Alibaba will speed up scientific and technological innovation in digital technologies, including artificial intelligence and cloud computing, promote the integration and application of digital technologies with various industries, as well as contribute to the recovery of consumption, digital transformation of enterprises, and job creation.

“China has withstood multiple tests from the COVID-19 pandemic and volatile external environment in recent years. We have full confidence in China’s economic recovery next year, along with the optimization of pandemic prevention and control measures,” Chen said.

Wang Yiming, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the conference has sent a clear signal on supporting the development of the digital economy, platform companies and the private sector, which has strongly stabilized expectations and bolstered market confidence.

The platform companies, which are among the drivers of the country’s economic recovery, will usher in a new round of development, Wang said. He called for efforts to formulate detailed measures to support the standardized and healthy development of the platform economy.

According to a white paper released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, the scale of China’s digital economy reached 45.5 trillion yuan ($6.5 trillion) in 2021, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the country’s GDP.

Zhou Hongyi, founder of cybersecurity company 360 Security Group, said support for the development of the platform economy and the private sector gives him confidence and hope. He highlighted the significance of pushing forward the digital transformation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

With digitalization making rapid progress in China, private enterprises will continue to play a prominent role in bolstering innovation, Zhou said, adding the cybersecurity sector is set to witness robust growth in the next five years.

Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center at Zhejiang University’s International Business School, said, “The platform enterprises are playing an increasingly important role in bolstering China’s economic growth, optimizing the allocation of resources, improving people’s livelihoods and expanding employment.”

Pan said the recent policy developments will pave the way for the healthy development of the platform economy, while normalized supervision will take the place of intensive and special rectification of improper behaviors of platform companies.

Xu Lei, CEO of e-commerce platform JD, said the company is committed to empowering the real economy through technological innovation and enhancing the resilience and safety of industrial and supply chains.

He said JD has invested nearly 90 billion yuan in research and development since 2017, and will further increase investment in technologies, to bolster China’s high-quality development.

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