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Digital strides powering China’s economic progress

Ouyang Shijia
Updated: Apr 13,2018 8:44 AM     China Daily

The country’s digital economy accounted for 32.28 percent of its gross domestic product in 2017 and remained an important pivot for the country’s economic growth, a new report said on April 12.

Released by Tencent Research Institute, the annual China Internet Plus Index shows that the internet-based digital economy amounted to 26.7 trillion yuan ($4.25 trillion) in 2017, up 17.24 percent year-on-year.

Driven by the coming-of-age mobile payment technologies, healthcare, education and entertainment sectors have benefited the most in 2017 from the booming digital wave. Meanwhile, business services and life services saw a period of sluggish growth due to their relatively high digital levels.

“The digital economy is playing an increasingly important part in driving China’s economic growth and transformation. Moreover, the application of digital technologies is no longer limited to the economic sector, but spread across a wide range of fields, including public service, cultural life and social governance,” Si Xiao, president of Tencent Research Institute, said on April 12 at the 2018 China Internet Plus & Digital Economy Summit in Chongqing.

Guangdong province, Jiangsu province and Zhejiang province top the list of regions that used internet-based technologies to facilitate almost everything from paying taxes to making appointments with doctors. Henan was ranked eighth in the list, up three spots from last year.

For instance, Guangdong province offers 108 e-government services, and 19 local bus stations allow people to purchase tickets via Tencent’s messaging app WeChat.

For the first time the report introduced the concept of digital Gini coefficient to present the digital distribution of the nation. The report noted the digital Gini coefficient shrunk to 0.59 in 2017 from 0.6 in 2016, saying the nation will be ushered into a more balanced digital economic future.

Another report released by China Internet Network Information Center earlier this year backed the new findings, saying the Chinese internet users are becoming increasingly digitally savvy. Of the nation’s 531 million online shoppers, 527 million are using mobile payments, up by 12.3 percent compared to the end of 2016.

In recent years, the government has accelerated its speed to boost the growth of the digital economy, introducing the Internet Plus policy to deepen the integration of the internet with economic and social sectors.

Tencent is among one of the leading technology companies that have driven the digital economy forward. During the Lunar New Year in February, Tencent saw its WeChat active monthly users hit the milestone of one billion, the company said.