Foreign companies in Shanghai benefit from the city’s one-stop online-offline services

By GT staff reporters Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/15 20:02:36

The light show during China's National Day holiday on the Bund in Shanghai Photo: VCG

Shanghai's digital government experience was included in the 2020 United Nations E-Government Survey released recently as a model case, and the city was also ranked 9th among 100 municipalities from around the world in terms of the Local Online Service Index, based on the survey.

The Shanghai Government Data Service Portal is one of the city's local projects that has been "most successful" in providing one-stop online-offline public services, according to the UN survey.

Besides the city's local residents and firms, foreign firms can also benefit from the services. "The portal provides services to all kinds of companies including multinational firms," Zhu Junwei, deputy director of the portal provider Shanghai Municipal Big Data Center, told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that the platform establishes a special integrated section in English to help foreign firms deal with related matters. 

"Our administrative and human resources departments do use this platform," an employee from Dutch company AkzoNobel, with its China headquarters based in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that the system improves efficiency in handling some duties such as the "annual business inspection and [handling of] employees' social security."

The UN studies over 190 countries and regions across the world on e-government services every two years. The 2020 survey included Shanghai's e-government experience and introduced how its services enhance the digital government, develop the local business environment, and improve the quality of life for local residents.

Since it was launched in October 2018, over 29.21 million individual users and 2 million firms have registered themselves on the platform, which has provided services over 2.19 billion times to users, with the capability to provide "one-stop" online services up to 84 percent of the time, according to the Shanghai municipal government.

The government's proactiveness to move  processes online has "made it so convenient," American national Barbara Ex, founder of Shanghai-based flexible meeting space provider WhiteSpace, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "I didn't need to lose time from work to go queue in a government office."

She also noted that China, and particularly Shanghai, are "world-class leaders in digital enablement," adding that "it's so business-friendly here; that's why I've stayed for 15 years."

She also applauded the platform for its easy-to-use display with all the right things "you need for your business" and personal life, including the ability to manage work permits and residence permits for key foreign staff members.

However, all the cities that participated in the assessment were chosen, rather than applying for the assessment themselves, Zheng Lei, professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University told the Global Times on Wednesday. Zheng also serves as a member of the Expert Group for the United Nations E-government Survey.

Shanghai's experience was chosen by the UN due to its "advancement of technologies" including the cross-agency data sharing and exchange platform for the government, as well as the online-offline integrated services, Zheng said.

Zheng noted Shanghai's model "offers reference" to both developed and developing countries that are looking to integrate their online and offline services.

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