China unveils blueprint for propelling digital development through 2035
Document lays out growth path through 2035, focusing on innovations
Published: Feb 27, 2023 11:49 PM
Students practice at a digital factory project in the Shenyang Institute of Technology in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province on November 2, 2022. The college is exploring new teaching models by cooperating with companies, aiming to boost students' employment after graduation. Photo: VCG

Students practice at a digital factory project in the Shenyang Institute of Technology in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province on November 2, 2022. Photo: VCG

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council unveiled guidelines for digital development in the world's second-largest economy on Monday, unfolding the blueprint and timeline for construction of a "digital China" through strengthening 5G and computing.

Industry observers said "the development design from the top" is both comprehensive and timely, while giving a clear direction for the nation's digital transformation in the years to come - a grand mission that will be embedded into all walks of life in the country.

Building a "digital China" is an important engine for promoting Chinese-style modernization in the digital age, and it is a strong support for building new advantages in global competition. It is of great significance and will have a far-reaching impact on the construction of a socialist modern country and comprehensively promoting the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, read the guidelines.

The guidelines set a specific timeline for China's digital construction through 2035. 

By 2025, the digital infrastructure will be efficiently connected through a broad range of sectors, and China will become a global leader in digital innovations. And by 2035, the level of digital development in China will enter the forefront of the world.

Major technology breakthroughs are highlighted in the document, which vows to strengthen the "key capabilities" of building a "digital China." 

Moreover, the guidelines also call for building a credible and manageable digital security apparatus, to maintain network security through improving the system of network security laws, regulations and policies.

"The document is directional, as it further refines and clarifies the development direction of the digital economy from the aspects of infrastructure construction, digital capabilities and the development environment," Pan Helin, co-director of the Research Center for Digital Economics and Financial Innovation at Zhejiang University, told the Global Times on Monday.

As to those companies in communications, computing power and other high-tech areas, the guidelines will bring immense opportunities, Pan said, predicting that digital infrastructure will replace traditional infrastructure projects, and become the new growth engine of China's infrastructure development.

Known as a "backbone" of digital infrastructure construction, China rolled out 887,000 new 5G base stations last year, and the total number of 5G stations has reached 2.312 million now, accounting for more than 60 percent of the world's total, data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed.

China's levels of digitalization and digital transformation are relatively advanced in the world, in terms of application and the scale of our digital economy, Wang Peng, a research fellow at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.

China's digital economy, ranking second worldwide for many years, has become a major growth engine for the country, according to a white paper titled "Jointly Build a Community with a Shared Future in Cyberspace" that China released in June last year.

In 2021, the value of China's digital economy had reached 45.5 trillion yuan ($6.45 trillion), accounting for 39.8 percent of its GDP, said the white paper.

"Prospects are promising but problems remain," Wang cautioned. First, China may still face some bottlenecks in key technologies. Second, unbalanced development among different regions and industries, as well as urban and rural areas, constitutes another barrier, which may create a digital divide, said the expert.

The guidelines call for an open and win-win international cooperation regime in the digital field, calling for overall plans for international cooperation in the digital field. 

"We will expand the space for international cooperation in the digital field, actively participate in digital cooperation platforms under multilateral frameworks such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G20, APEC, BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and build a new platform for open cooperation in the digital field with high quality," read the guidelines.