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Country propels digital progress, innovation push

Ouyang Shijia/Gao Boyang
Updated: Feb 1,2018 9:02 AM     China Daily

China has seen rapid development in its digital economy and innovation sector, which serves as a new growth engine for the country’s economic and social development.

A report released by the China Internet Network Information Center on Jan 31 said the country had 772 million netizens by the end of December 2017 — 40.74 million more than the number in the previous year.

“China is accelerating its pace in transforming from a country with an extensive cyber presence ... to a cyber powerhouse. The IT infrastructure has achieved substantial improvement,” said Zeng Yu, deputy director of digital economy bureau of the Cyberspace Administration of China.

Thanks to China’s rapid developing internet sector, more consumers are enjoying the excitement of online shopping, said the report.

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.

The significant surge in e-shoppers has driven growth in China’s digital development, including e-commerce, online gaming and online advertising sectors.

Chinese e-commerce platforms saw revenues grow to 21.88 billion yuan ($3.48 billion) during January to November last year, a rise of more than 40 percent compared with a year earlier. Online gaming and online advertising sales reported increases of more than 20 percent during the same period last year.

Zhang Xiao, deputy director of CNNIC, noted there are two trends in Chinese e-commerce business — high-quality development and deepening integration.

“Online payment enterprises are trying to integrate online and offline services, with rapid development of online stores, unmanned retail shops and mixed operation models.”

In recent years, China has been ramping up efforts to boost the internet and innovation sectors, aiming to be at the forefront of future competition around the globe.

As of December last year, China had 102 listed internet companies, carrying a total valuation of nearly 9 trillion yuan.

Three major internet players, Baidu Inc, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd, collectively known as BAT, are the top three most valuable companies on the list, accounting for 73.9 percent of the overall valuation.

Among the listed companies, 28.4 percent are online gaming firms, taking the largest proportion. E-commerce and culture and media are the second- and third-largest categories in terms of the number of listed firms, accounting for 14.7 percent and 10.8 percent respectively.

Fueled by the booming internet sector and governments’ supportive policies, 77 Chinese startups each had a unicorn valuation of more than $1 billion by the end of 2017.

Beijing topped all other cities for the number of unicorn companies, followed by Shanghai and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province.