Firms pin hopes on higher use of 5G tech, 'new infrastructure' construction
China's information and communications technology industry is expected to see improved growth during the second half of this year, thanks to the increased "new infrastructure" construction and 5G adoption, experts said on Thursday.
The optimistic forecast for the sector comes on the heels of the sector's relatively stable performance during the first half despite challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and downward global economic pressure, they said.
Xin Guobin, vice-minister of industry and information technology, said the industrial output of information transmission, software and IT service industry grew by 14.5 percent on a yearly basis during the first six months of this year, up 1.3 percentage points from the first quarter.
"Online shopping, with e-commerce supported by livestreaming in particular, is gaining strong traction in the COVID-19 era. Online education and remote medical consultation are becoming increasingly popular, spurring fast growth of information-related consumption,"Xin said.
Cloud computing, big data, internet data centers and the internet of things sector saw robust growth in revenue during the first six months. By the end of June, China had built 410,000 5G base stations in total, with 257,000 being set up in the first half of this year, the ministry said, adding that China now has 66 million users whose 5G smartphones are now connected to the internet.
Liu Duo, head of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank, said Chinese telecom carriers will start building standalone 5G networks on a large scale in the second half of the year, which will promote industrial applications of the superfast wireless technology such as industrial internet and smart connected cars.
China Mobile, the nation's largest telecom operator, for instance, has announced plans to help companies build dedicated 5G networks to accelerate digital transformation.
The good performance of the ICT industry has also been aided by China's efforts to shore up economic growth despite the COVID-19 challenges, floods in several parts of the country and global economic downward pressure.
According to Xin, industrial output, a key gauge of industrial activity in the country, rose 4.8 percent on a yearly basis in June. "China is capable of sustaining a relatively sound momentum in industrial development in the second half of this year."
The vice-minister said new policies will be rolled out, including a new guideline to boost industrial investment. In addition, partnerships with the China Development Bank will be encouraged to support the construction of important projects.
"If (the policies were) properly implemented, industrial investment is likely to bounce back to positive growth by the end of this year," Xin said. During the first six months of this year, manufacturing investment fell by 11.7 percent on a yearly basis.
While ramping up efforts to revive economic activity after the COVID-19 epidemic has been brought under better control, Chinese enterprises have been closely tracking the research and development of vaccines and preparing for large-scale production of the same in the future.
Huang Libin, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said that 13 Chinese companies have started building production capacity for COVID-19 vaccines and nine of them have got the necessary approvals for clinical trials.