Resources ramped up to build 'Digital China'

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China will ratchet up resources to speed up the construction of digital infrastructure, bolster the digital transformation of the economy and society, and deepen reforms related to the market-oriented allocation of data elements, as part of a broader push to develop new quality productive forces and advance the building of a "Digital China", officials and experts said.

Vice-Premier Ding Xuexiang said more efforts should be made to give full play to China's advantages in terms of its massive data scale and rich application scenarios, and unleash the value of data elements so as to create new growth momentum for the country's high-quality development.

Ding, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the 7th Digital China Summit, which kicked off on Friday in Fuzhou, Fujian province.

He stressed the need to improve independent innovation capacities in digital technologies, make breakthroughs in core technologies in key fields such as integrated circuits and artificial intelligence, and enhance the resilience and security of industrial and supply chains.

The 7th Digital China Summit opened on Friday in Fuzhou, Fujian province. [Xinhua / Lin Shanchuan]

China will make more efforts to accelerate the development of core industries of the digital economy, build digital industry clusters with international competitiveness, and promote the digital and intelligent transformation of manufacturing, Ding added.

Liu Liehong, head of the National Data Administration, the country's top data governance regulator, called for faster construction of data infrastructure and basic systems for data, vigorous development of the digital economy and improved digitalization of public services.

Liu also highlighted the importance of promoting the development of smart cities and digital transformation of urban areas, as well as accelerating reforms related to the market-oriented allocation of data elements.

China unveiled a plan for the overall layout of the country's digital development last year, vowing to make important progress in the construction of a "Digital China" by 2025. By 2035, China will be at the global forefront of digital development.

The total data output in China reached 32.85 zettabytes in 2023, an increase of 22.44 percent year-on-year, while the added value of core industries of the digital economy accounted for 10 percent of GDP, according to a report on Digital China development released by the NDA on Friday.

Wang Jiangping, vice-minister of industry and information technology, said the ministry will push forward the development of new-generation information technologies including artificial intelligence, cloud computing and big data, and promote deeper integration of digital technologies with the real economy.

China has made remarkable achievements in building digital infrastructure. Statistics from the ministry show that the country had built more than 3.65 million 5G base stations by the end of March, with the number of 5G mobile phone users reaching 874 million across the nation.

Wu Jianping, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the emergence of innovative digital technologies has laid a solid foundation for unleashing the huge value of data elements, while underlining the significance of safeguarding data security, which is a prerequisite to ensure orderly development of the data elements market.

Noting that new cybersecurity challenges have appeared along with the rapid development of AI technology and the accelerated application of data elements in more scenarios, Qi Xiangdong, chairman of Chinese cybersecurity company Qi-Anxin Technology Group, said the company has rolled out a large language model targeting the cybersecurity industry to fend off rising potential cyberattacks.

Qi said cybersecurity and AI are inextricably linked, while AI has greatly lowered the threshold of cyberattacks and raised some concerns about data leakage and malicious misuse of data. He called for efforts to ensure the safe use of AI technology and to invest more in the training of high-caliber cybersecurity talent.

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