Internet sector to see new development

2024-07-10 08:12:25China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

China's internet sector is expected to usher in new development opportunities, as the nation further accelerates the construction of a national computing power network and bolsters the indepth integration of cutting-edge digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing with the real economy, said officials, experts and company executives.

Highlighting China's significant achievements in the development of internet infrastructure, they called for increased efforts to achieve breakthroughs in tech frontiers such as AI chips, algorithm frameworks and quantum technology, in order to foster new quality productive forces and provide new momentum for the nation's economic growth.

These comments were made at the opening ceremony of the 2024 China Internet Conference, which started on Tuesday in Beijing. This year marks the 30th anniversary of China's full access to the internet.

According to a report released on Tuesday by the Internet Society of China, the nation's total number of internet users reached 1.092 billion by December 2023, with the internet penetration rate standing at 77.5 percent. China has constantly advanced the construction of its 5G network and built 3.837 million 5G base stations as of the end of May.

The total number of standard racks in use at data centers nationwide exceeded 8.1 million by the end of last year, while the country's total computing power reached 230 EFLOPS, ranking second globally after the United States, the report said.

EFLOPS is a unit of the speed of computer systems, equal to one quintillion floating-point operations a second.

Meanwhile, China has made remarkable progress in the development of homegrown large language models, or rivals to ChatGPT, and is now at the forefront globally in terms of AI-related patent applications and authorizations. The country also boasts a total of 375 unicorn companies, which refers to startups valued over $1 billion, the report stated.

Zhao Zhiguo, chief engineer of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said at the conference that China will accelerate the optimization and upgrading of digital infrastructure, speed up the research and development of 6G technology, and improve the comprehensive supply capacity and scheduling of computing power resources.

Zhao emphasized the importance of achieving breakthroughs in AI, the next generation of the internet and quantum tech, nurturing strategic emerging industry clusters and developing future-oriented industries, as well as leveraging digital technologies to promote the transformation and upgrading of manufacturing.

"A new generation of information technology represented by AI is profoundly reconstructing the digital and physical worlds, and accelerating the digital and intelligent revolution in society and economy, while giving stronger impetus to the growth of China's internet industry," said Shang Bing, president of the Internet Society of China.

Noting that the nation's internet economy is entering its optimum period of development, Shang said that more efforts are required to promote the industrialization of digital technologies, nurture new business models such as livestreaming e-commerce and unmanned delivery, and actively participate in international digital governance regarding AI, digital trade and data security.

Zhang Chaoyang, founder and CEO of Chinese internet company Sohu, said that generative AI is spearheading a new round of the scientific and technological revolution, and it is having a profound impact on people's daily life and production, adding that he is bullish about the prospects for the fast-growing AI-generated content sector.

The revenue of China's AI industry is estimated to reach 1.73 trillion yuan ($237.9 billion) by 2035, accounting for 30.6 percent of the world's total, according to market research firm CCID Consulting.

The internet has become an important force propelling China's economic and social progress, and transforming the way people acquired knowledge and information in the past decades, said Qi Xiangdong, chairman of Chinese cybersecurity company Qi-Anxin Technology Group.

Qi said that along with the rapid development and application of AI technology, new cybersecurity challenges have appeared, while calling for efforts to ensure the safe use of AI technology and to invest more in the training of high-caliber cybersecurity talent.

Zhou Hongyi, founder and chairman of Chinese internet enterprise 360 Security Group, said the emergence of large language models will not only reshape all internet applications, but also bring about new revolutionary opportunities and inject new vitality into the internet industry.

Zhou said he believes the large language model will profoundly change the world in the next 10 to 20 years.

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