Xi calls for sound development of digital economy, comprehensive regulation
China to seize commanding heights of future development
Published: Oct 19, 2021 11:03 PM
A concept photo of digital economy Photo: VCG

A concept photo of digital economy Photo: VCG

President Xi Jinping has called for efforts to ensure the sound development of the digital economy at a time when the country is undauntedly pushing for indigenous innovation, especially in bottleneck technologies, while carrying out an unprecedented battle against monopolies and unfair competition.

Xi made the remarks on Monday when presiding over a study session of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, focusing on the digital economy, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The president called for grasping the trend and law of digital economy development and pushing forward the sound development of the digital economy in the country, according to Xinhua.

Digital technologies and the digital economy offer preemptive opportunities amid a global technological revolution and industrial transformation, and it is a crucial area in the new round of international competition, Xi said, stressing that China must seize the opportunities and seize the commanding heights of future development.

Xi also called for an improvement in the digital economic governance mechanism with the strengthening of laws, rules and policies. The president also called for breakthroughs in core technologies to ensure that the autonomy of digital economic development is "firmly grasped in our own hands," and a reiterated stance on correcting and regulating activities and behaviors that are detrimental to the people's interests and hamper fair competition.  

He also called for efforts to prevent monopolies and the unchecked expansion of capital, noting that the legitimate rights and interests of platform employees and consumers ought to be protected. Tougher tax supervision and audit procedures were also stressed.

Lü Jian, president of Nanjing University and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, expounded on the topic and offered advice at the study session.

The country's digital economy has made marked progress, with various digital technologies playing a big part in underpinning the economy's emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.

China was the world's second-largest digital economy with a scale nearing $5.4 trillion in 2020, trailing the US with its $13.6 trillion digital economy, according to a white paper on the global digital economy unveiled by the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology in August.

China's digital economy was the fastest-growing last year with a yearly expansion of 9.6 percent, followed by Lithuania with an annual growth rate of 9.3 percent, according to the white paper.

Takeaways from the study session clarified the direction of China's digital economy development, Wang Peng, an assistant professor at the Gaoling School of Artificial Intelligence at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"Supervision will be strengthened to protect personal information and data, prevent monopolies, and enable digital platforms, the digital economy and digital technology to benefit people's livelihoods and the pursuit of common prosperity," Wang noted.

In a sign of an unswerving regulatory toughening targeting monopolies, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) plans to hire more employees in its Beijing head office, with its anti-monopoly unit getting 18 out of 33 new staffers planned for the SAMR's 2022 civil servant hiring.

Several Chinese digital platforms have also faced strict regulatory scrutiny in recent months. Earlier in October, Meituan was slapped with an antitrust fine of 3.44 billion yuan ($533.5 million), or 3 percent of its 2020 domestic revenue, nearly half a year after the top market regulator launched an anti-monopoly probe into the domestic food delivery giant.

Meituan was also ordered to immediately stop illegal activities and give full refunds of exclusive cooperation deposits totaling 1.29 billion yuan to contracted vendors. 

In April, e-commerce behemoth Alibaba was fined a record $2.8 billion in a landmark antitrust case.