China Puts Finishing Touches on Digital Economy Policy Framework, 5G Expected to Drive 15.2T Yuan in Growth


The Chinese government is accelerating efforts to improve its overall policy framework for development and regulation of the digital economy.

Government sources told state media that China’s digital economy policy framework is basically established, and that authorities are currently in the process of accelerating the completion of specific policy systems.

According to the sources the accelerated establishment of a digital economy policy system has become the “priority of priorities” for China’s central and local governments, with the system set to encompass planning, regulatory and growth encouragement policies, as well as policies on big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

The “Internet Plus” high-quality growth policy system (“互联网+”高质量发展的政策体系) will soon be unveiled, with the launch or ongoing implementation of a series of key digital economy projects.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) the Internet Plus policy system will focus on:

  • Accelerated upgrade of core technological and innovation capabilities in the Internet Plus sphere;
  • Support for enterprises exploring cutting-edge automation technologies;
  • Expediting the in-depth integration of Internet Plus with the real economy;
  • Upgrading the smart capabilities of infrastructure;
  • Driving the evolution and upgrade of Internet Plus towards a “smart economy.

Key Internet Plus projects will include the creation of data-based infrastructure, big data integrated trial zones and AI innovative application guidance zones.

Provincial governments have also recently launched a new round of digital economy policies that focus on the growth opportunities afforded by new 5G technology.

Li Min (厉敏), vice-chair of the Zhejiang province Digital Economy Development Leadership Team, recently revealed that the provincial government has established a 10 billion yuan digital economy industry fund, targeting the creation of 100 “people-free workshops” and “people-free factories,” as well as supporting 100 backbone digital enterprises and 100 key digitization projects.

The Zhejiang province government also recently set a 400 billion yuan target for revenue generated by 5G-related industries by 2022, supporting revenue from core digital economy sectors of 2.5 trillion yuan.

On 3 June the Tianjin municipal government released the “Tianjin Municipality Action Plan for Driving Growth in the Digital Economy (2019 – 2023) (天津市促进数字经济发展行动方案(2019—2023年)), which set the goal of its digital economy GDP share being the highest in China by 2023, as well as calling for the establishment of data-driven 5G smart infrastructure, as well as full optical fibre coverage across the city centre.

The rapid expansion of 5G technology is expected to play a critical role in efforts to drive the growth of China’s digital economy.

Wang Zhiqin (王志勤), vice-head of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (中国信息通信研究院), forecasts that during the period from 2020 to 2025 5G technology will drive growth in China’s digital economy of 15.2 trillion yuan.

In 2018 China’s digital economy reached 31.3 trillion yuan, for nominal growth of 20.9%, accounting for 34.8% of Chinese GDP, while more than ten provinces saw their digital economies breach the trillion yuan threshold, including Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang and Shanghai.