China's continuing efforts to improve the market and policy environments for internet businesses have given rise to an innovative and vibrant internet sector, said a blue book on internet development released on Thursday at the fifth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, East China's Zhejiang Province.
An array of Chinese internet businesses has honed their competitiveness, according to the book, noting core technology breakthroughs ought to be made to foster new international competitive advantages.
Technological strength lies at the core heart of internet business competitiveness, Yao Jinbo, CEO of U.S.-listed classifieds firm 58.com, often described as China's Craigslist, told the Global Times on Thursday at the conference.
Stating that his company has upped the ante on research and development, Yao believes that the government's continued support, exemplified by the recent announcement to launch a science and technology innovation board on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, will help foster innovation in the internet sector.
As of December last year, a total of 102 Chinese internet firms had floated on domestic and overseas markets, a 12 percent increase year-on-year, said statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center. The number of Chinese unicorns, meaning tech startups scoring a $1 billion valuation or more, had hit 77 by the end of last year.
Unicorns with valuations of more than 100 billion yuan ($14.43 billion) have kept emerging, arguably stars driving China's digital economic development, the blue book said.
Last year the country's digital economy hit 27.2 trillion yuan ($3.93 billion), accounting for 32.9 percent of GDP, and the digital economy contributed 55 percent to GDP growth.
Despite a cooling economy at large, the country's digital economy continues to pick up steam, evident in a still-robust performance of classified platforms that mostly serve small and medium-sized businesses in the country, according to Yao at 58.com.