BEIJING, April 7 (Xinhua) -- China has fleshed out its pledge this year to foster the digital economy, which is increasingly prominent in its overall economy.
China will strengthen policy-making and institutional building, take forward-looking steps in building digital infrastructure, foster the innovation and development of digital industries, speed up digital transformation, upgrade digital public services, and deepen international cooperation, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
The announcement came after a February plan for the overall layout of the country's digital development jointly released by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, which envisioned a significantly improved digital economy by 2025.
"China's digital economy, the second largest in the world, has become one of the main drivers of economic growth," said Cao Shumin, deputy head of the Cyberspace Administration of China.
The four core industries of the digital economy expanded 14.1 percent year on year in March, 7.3 percentage points higher than the annual average last year. The digital factors-driven industry, comprising internet platforms, internet finance, and five other businesses, saw a 24.5 percent growth, official data showed.
The scale-up helped bolster economic recovery last year as businesses such as information transmission and information technology services saw faster growth and milder fluctuations compared to the economy as a whole, according to a recent industry report on the financial status of China's digital economy in 2022.
Analysts say the digital economy now accounts for around 40 percent of the national economy and is expected to take up half by 2025 with policy support.
In the long run, efforts to nurture the digital economy will help create efficient matches between supply and demand to sustain the boom in the market and the economy, said Zhao Gang, an industrial analyst at Beijing-based consultancy firm CIO Manage.
The NDRC outlined the upgrade of gigabit optical networks and the application of 5G on a larger scale as a focus on the infrastructure front.
Official data showed that China had 2.31 million 5G base stations by the end of last year, with gigabit optical networks capable of covering more than 500 million households. Active users of Internet Protocol version 6 topped 700 million.
The commission also underscored the building of a basic institutional system and a market system for data as a factor of production. The attention to data is consistent with the February plan and the country's decision made in March to establish a national data bureau.
To develop digital industry clusters that are competitive globally, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said it would strengthen the supply chain resilience of products like integrated circuits and connected vehicles while encouraging traditional industries to embrace digital technologies.
A bevy of companies is jumping on the bandwagon. Centrally-administered state-owned enterprises had set up nearly 500 new firms specializing in digital technology by early April, showed official data. Some privately-owned tech giants have lately ventured into frontline fields such as AI-generated content. ■