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Exploring value of data to boost sustainable development

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-04-11 17:22

China is exploring the value of data as a factor of production to boost sustainable development. [Photo/VCG]

BEIJING - China is exploring the value of data as a factor of production to boost sustainable development, at a time when the emerging digital economy is creating new growth momentum through forging new production supply and consumer demand.

China's digital economy has shown five characteristics as the country works to accelerate the construction of a digital economy with data as the key element.

First, digital infrastructure has improved. China had built 3.38 million 5G base stations by the end of 2023, up 46.1 percent year-on-year. Its scale of computing power had exceeded 230 EFLOPS, while the country reported 1.09 billion netizens at the end of 2023, elevating the internet penetration rate to 77.5 percent.

Second, data as a factor of production is becoming robust. Digital and intelligent applications, involving smart cities and industrial internet, have been empowered by improving data production, storage and development capacity. Taking artificial intelligence as an example, China has developed more than 100 large-scale AI models with over 1 billion parameters each.

Third, integrating the traditional economic system with information and communications technology is instrumental in boosting productivity and competitiveness. Along with the growth of intelligent manufacturing and industrial internet, China had more than 340 leading industrial internet platforms connecting 96 million items of industrial equipment at the end of 2023. Regarding intelligent manufacturing, China had incubated 421 national-level demonstration factories and over 10,000 provincial-level digital workshops and smart factories.

The government, in the latest move, unveiled an action plan to promote industrial equipment upgrades to boost industrial equipment investment by more than 25 percent for the period 2023-2027. By 2027, the penetration rate of digital R&D and design tools in major enterprises will exceed 90 percent, and over 75 percent of their key production processes will be numerically controlled.

Fourth, new forms of business in the service sector have grown more active. In 2023, China's online retail sales hit 15.42 trillion yuan ($2.17 trillion), up 11 percent year-on-year. The mobile payment penetration rate stood at 86 percent -- ranking first in the world.

Fifth, public service applications are more inclusive. The rural internet penetration rate had climbed to 66.5 percent by the end of 2023. The construction of digital government has improved, thereby providing quality online public services. The scale of users of online car-hailing and internet hospitals went up by 20.7 percent and 14.2 percent, respectively, in 2023 compared with the previous year.

A survey released by the national data bureau in early April 2024 revealed that China had created more than 32 zettabytes of data in 2023. By the end of 2023, the country had installed 1.05 million standard racks across eight national computing hubs, with an average rack utilization rate of 61.9 percent -- 3.9 percentage points higher than in 2022.

Computing power, algorithms and data are regarded as the basis of the digital economy. By 2025, the added value of core industries of the digital economy will account for 10 percent of China's GDP, according to the 14th Five-Year Digital Economy Development Plan issued by the State Council.

To further tap the value of data, China set up the national data bureau in October 2023 to coordinate the construction of data infrastructure systems, as well as the integration, sharing, development and utilization of data resources.

The bureau will focus on optimizing the market-oriented allocation of data factors and boosting new industries, new models and new drivers to cultivate and develop new quality productive forces.

All these efforts have been laying a solid foundation for bolstering data-powered development to advance the planning and building of a digital China, which includes a digital economy and society.

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