The second Digital China Summit is held in Fuzhou, southeast China's Fujian Province, May 6, 2019. (Xinhua/Lin Shanchuan)
by Xinhua Writers Yao Yuan, Zhang Yizhi and Yu Junjie
China on Monday sounded another heartening note for its development of information technologies, as both companies and the government rush to harness this nationwide tech boom to raise efficiency, buoy public satisfaction and even tackle corruption.
The second Digital China Summit opened Monday in eastern China's Fujian Province, shedding light on the latest information technologies that have penetrated the country's government, industries and society.
The Chinese government has expected information technologies to nurture new economic engines and upgrade old industries as the country shunts from the high-speed economic growth to the path of high-quality development.
Huang Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, in a keynote speech at the summit called for advancing the building of a digital China and smart society, stressing the role of information technology in promoting high-quality development.
Huang, also head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, said China's advantages in internet technology innovation, technology application and as a huge market should be transformed into advantages in developing a digital economy.
The official called for achieving breakthroughs in core technologies, enhancing protection of intellectual property rights, advancing information infrastructure construction and narrowing digital gaps between urban and rural areas.
A report reviewing the country's digital development in 2018 was also issued at the summit, pointing to rapid growth in sectors including electronic information manufacturing, software service, communications and big data.
The report published by the Cyberspace Administration of China said the country last year recorded more than 9 trillion yuan (1.3 trillion U.S. dollars) in online retail. China's digital economy reached 31.3 trillion yuan in scale, accounting for one-third of the national GDP in 2018.
Provincial-level e-government platforms have also slashed time for getting government permits by an average of 30 percent, noted the report.
Trendy technologies from driverless vendor vehicles and facial recognition security checks to 5G networks are being used at the event in the city of Fuzhou. A number of tech companies are displaying their cutting-edge products including Baidu's driverless vehicles, Huawei's AI chip "Ascend" and Foxconn's "future factories."
Pony Ma, CEO of China's Internet giant Tencent, said at the summit that the company, by working with Fujian police, has used its facial recognition technology to help 1,000 families find missing family members in the past two years.
Hu Xiaoming, president of Ant Financial that runs the popular online payment network Alipay, said at the event that one of every four Chinese now handles government services on Alipay, making it the country's largest platform that offers access to government services.
ByteDance, known for its short video sharing app TikTok, also demonstrated its poverty-relief project at the summit, which it said has trained 10,000 people from 505 impoverished Chinese counties and helped sell 1.94 million yuan worth of agricultural products.
Information technologies have drawn more attention in recent years, particularly in China's industrial sectors, where they are credited with revving up automation in traditional factories and creating new industries.
As China steps up its industrial upgrade, which will result in inefficient industries being phased out, booming e-commerce is believed to have cushioned the job market by creating a deluge of new positions from online shopping "guides" to scooter-riding couriers of take-out food.
Meituan, an online food delivery platform in China, said it draws 31 percent of its riders from phased-out industries. The company has 2.7 million courier riders, boosted by China's booming online food delivery.
According to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), China's digital economy provided 191 million jobs last year, marking a yearly increase of 11.5 percent.
One of the major highlights at this year's summit is the many e-government apps, which have mushroomed across China to incorporate a wide range of government and public services. They are part of the government's efforts to cut red tape to benefit residents and businesses alike.
In Fuzhou, the host city of the event, a citizen's typical day now revolves around the e-Fuzhou app, which allows users to buy bus tickets, pay tuition fees and manage social security accounts without the need of visiting government offices.
A slew of digital technology applications, including the big data credit inquiry system, the online tax bureau, and the paperless customs clearance system, have also been developed in the province over the years.
Dingxi, one of the least developed cities in west China's Gansu Province, has a booth displaying an online monitoring platform, which it launched last year to allow villagers to scrutinize the management of poverty-relief funds and report any signs of corruption.
"We went door-to-door to teach villagers how to use mobile phones to check the subsidies they are entitled to and the sum other families actually received," said Yang Sirun, an inspector with the city's discipline inspection commission.
"In the past, some wealthy families feigned poverty to claim subsistence allowances, while some officials fraudulently pocketed subsidies in the names of families that had moved away. The new platform can easily expose such 'micro corruption,'" Yang said.
The official said since its launch, over 3,400 officials and residents have voluntarily turned in their illegal gains for fear of being reported. "Many hidden problems were also found during the collation of data from different departments, which proves big data's power in fighting corruption," he said.
The summit from May 6 to 8 aims to serve as a platform for issuing China's policies on IT development and displaying the achievements and experience of e-government and the digital economy.
More than 1,500 officials, company representatives and scholars are attending the event, which is co-organized by the Cyberspace Administration of China, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Fujian provincial government.
Among the array of mind-blowing tech innovations displayed at the summit are products tailored to overseas markets, revealing the ambitions of many Chinese digital startups to go abroad.
Netdragon, a Fuzhou-based tech company, earlier this year inked a memorandum of understanding with the Egyptian government to build 265,000 Popup Classrooms in the African country in three years.
The containers-turned classrooms are equipped with the latest technologies such as hologram projection, virtual reality and interactive panels. Easy to assemble and transport, they are expected to help improve education quality in less-developed areas.
"In a Popup Classroom, students from even the most remotest corners of the world can enjoy the same quality of lectures as those in big cities," said Xiong Li, CEO of Netdragon. "With the aid of 5G technology and hologram projection, they can interact with teachers thousands of miles away."
"All countries should benefit from technological advances, and we hope to bridge the gap in education between developing and developed countries," said Xiong.
Digital companies are among the latest in the bevy of Chinese enterprises venturing abroad, with the latest hit being ByteDance, whose short video services are now available in over 150 markets and in 75 languages.
Netdragon chairman Liu Dejian observed that many countries along the Belt and Road "are now very interested in China's rapid digitalization and are seeking inspiration from China's smart city construction, e-government, e-commerce and digital education."
"The many solutions in China's digitalization will support other countries' development and help the world share the benefits of digital trends," he said.
Tatwah Smartech, a satellite and telecom company, said they managed to provide affordable satellite communication services for cargo ships and fishing boats in seven countries in Southeast Asia.
"Fishermen in these countries were basically isolated from the world in the past, but now, they are connected via phones or the internet," said Wang Zhongmin, vice president of Tatwah Smartech. "Our presence there will improve the telecommunication infrastructure and create considerable job opportunities."