ICT lifts China to become global trendsetter

By Li Hong Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/12 21:38:42

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT


The red-hot expansion of the high-speed broadband network in China since 2012 has enabled the country to power ahead in global industrial digitalization and business model modernization, giving birth to a huge "digital-savvy population" and helping China take up a clear lead in ICT development.

ICT, standing for information and communications technology, is widely considered as the launching pad for the so-called Third Industrial Revolution, which experts have also dubbed the Digital Revolution.

Completely different and much more efficient new business models are taking shape, which are transforming old-school sectors including construction, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and many other sectors. Many are pursuing new business models based on social media, big data, and now the Internet of Things.

Rising streams of internet data, a catalyst of industrial and societal transformation, are giving birth to big data technology and helping to grow smarter robotics and artificial intelligence. Now, cooperation between humans and intelligent machines has become a reality that is expected to leave a profound impact on both industrial and societal evolution.

Almost overnight in China, the world's largest digitally-connected middle class went both mobile and multi-screen - with the world's highest ownership of smartphones and mobile pads, entailing huge implications for how consumers behave and what business and companies need to do in order to compete and prevail in this brand-new business environment.

Thanks to the government's steadfast pursuit to be the best in terms of telecommunication technology, China has invested massively in building up the world's most advanced 4G mobile broadband infrastructure throughout the country. Meanwhile, Huawei and ZTE, China's two telecom powerhouses, are now leading in 5G research and development.

According to IHS Markit, by 2035, the fifth generation of wireless telecommunication, or 5G, is expected to generate $12 trillion in global economic output and create 22 million jobs.

In the coming years, Chinese experts predict that the penetration of ICT into a wide range of other industrial sectors and diverse facets of society will continue apace, creating completely new ways of business operations and setting off an explosive growth in efficiency, productivity and prosperity.

Industrial big data and the industrial internet are two major efforts aligned with Made in China 2025. In the next few years, the transformation of traditional industries through internet technology and Chinese and foreign enterprises' participation in the Belt and Road initiative will become the major driving forces for China's huge, yet dynamic market.

In the past decade, China has witnessed the world's largest and fastest information consumption, and the advent of a momentous information-centered enterprise - the digital transformation of traditional industries and businesses on a scale that history has never seen.

This digital wave has obviously propelled the country to a much higher technological level. Now, China leads the world in online shopping, mobile payments and the sharing economy, and this is significantly due to the rapid expansion of high-speed broadband networks.

World techno-optimists claim that the new information and telecom technology will continue to help transform traditional manufacturing and marketing, fueling an economic boom, as the lag between digital capabilities and digital applications in the real economy shortens each passing day.

The digitalization process also helped groom a new group of digital-savvy entrepreneurs in the fields of online travel booking, online banking, online rentals, online music, video, gaming, group-buying, goods delivery, bike-sharing, car-sharing and many more.

Currently, four in five Chinese citizens that are digitally connected are buying online, and that penetration is expected to continue to build rapidly. Pundits claim that China's strength in this arena will help transform it from a global trends follower in the past to become an actual trendsetter.

Furthermore, some experts recommend that people living elsewhere take notice of the mobile entertainment habits of China's millennial generations, for today's online culture trends are increasingly aligned with mobile internet usage, which gives birth to new forms of lifestyle and business opportunities.

To stay ahead of the competition curve, the Chinese government is expected to shore up the positions of the existing giant companies in telecom and internet - Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei in particular - and support the testing of new ideas, new gears and new services to help groom more innovative enterprises in the country.

With 5G rising on the horizon, the traditional path of industrial production, services delivery and human interaction will brace for significantly more and deeper innovations, if not drastic changes.

They predict that China will be among the 5G frontrunners, and the country's three major telecom carriers - China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom - will upgrade their broadband infrastructure quickly.

Worth noting, however, is that China will face even stiffer competition in 5G as the US, EU, South Korea and Japan are all heavily committed to 5G. Tremendous efforts will still be required to pave the road toward China's dominance in 5G.

The author is an editor with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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