A visitor experiences Gongti Metaverse livestreaming during the Global Digital Economy Conference 2023 in Beijing on July 5. (Photo: Du Jinapo/For China Daily)
Tech firms urged to hike investments in basic research, strategic fields
China's efforts to boost its digital economy and platform companies, and speed up the integration of the digital and real economy will foster new growth drivers and inject strong impetus into the country's economic recovery amid downward pressure, experts and company executives said.
Highlighting that the digital economy has become a new driver in promoting industrial upgrade, they said Chinese tech enterprises should step up investments in state-of-the-art technologies, basic research and strategic forward-looking areas, as well as further enhance their technological innovation capabilities.
Fostering new growth momentum and upgrading traditional industries has been high on China's development agenda, experts noted.
The remarks came ahead of the annual Central Economic Work Conference, which is usually convened in December to map out economic development priorities and set the tone for macroeconomic policy the following year.
"Innovative digital technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and the internet of things are finding a wide range of applications across various industries, such as manufacturing and agriculture, and speeding up integration with the real economy," said Wu Hequan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
He said facilitating the growth of the digital economy is significant in building up new competitive edges, speeding up digital transformation, upgrading traditional industries and better serving the real economy.
In the face of increasingly fierce competition, Wu called for heightened efforts to double down on indigenous innovation to make core technological breakthroughs in key fields and expand the industrial application scenarios of leading technologies.
China's digital economy reached 50.2 trillion yuan ($7.01 trillion) in 2022, ranking second in the world and accounting for 41.5 percent of the country's GDP, according to a report released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.
The country will take solid steps to build digital infrastructure and data resource systems as well as bolster deeper integration of digital technologies with the economy, politics, culture, society and ecology, according to a plan jointly released in February by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, the nation's Cabinet.
Jiang Xiaojuan, head of the China Society of Industrial Economics and a professor at the University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said digital transformation in traditional industries has become the main battlefield for the development of the digital economy.
Jiang also emphasized the significance of building a data elements market system and unleashing the value of massive data resources.
It is important to give full play to the role of platform enterprises in bolstering economic growth given that China has the world's largest online consumer market and the largest scale of digital infrastructure, she added.
The National Data Administration said on Thursday that it will continue to disclose notable investment cases regarding platform enterprises together with other government departments, and support such enterprises to play a more active part in bolstering the development of the digital economy.
The administration also highlighted the significant role platform enterprises have played in promoting economic growth, creating jobs and competing on the global stage, which will help establish a modern industrial system, and foster the high-quality development of the real economy.
Xu Ran, CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant JD, said the company has invested more than 100 billion yuan in basic science and technology R&D since 2017, and is committed to enhancing the resilience and safety of supply chains by leveraging digital technologies.
JD will speed up the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries and make efforts to build a modern industrial system, Xu said.
China's intensified push to develop the digital economy and bolster the in-depth integration of digital and real economies will lay a solid foundation for long-term economic growth and enhance the country's core global competitiveness, said Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center at Zhejiang University's International Business School.