The Rise of China’s Digital Economy: A Boost for Q1 Growth

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics released on Tuesday, China’s economy grew by 4.5 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2023, with a nationwide increase in economic activity. However, it is the digital economy that has once again played a key role in boosting growth across various sectors.

In particular, the market for AI products experienced a surge during this period, which was led by Chinese tech giants Baidu and Alibaba. Both companies launched large language models to take advantage of this latest round of digital innovation. The CEO of Alibaba, Daniel Zhang, noted that new AI technologies will not only provide innovative user experiences but also bring about significant changes to the way people work and live.

The digital economy in China has seen continuous growth, with major digital industries increasing by 14.1 percent year on year in March, which is 7.3 percentage points higher than the previous year’s growth rate. Additionally, data-driven businesses and digital tech industries grew by 24.5 percent and 19.8 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year, according to the state taxation administration.

According to Bi Ran, reporting from Beijing, the digitization and intelligent technology in China are promoting high-quality development. The country’s large-scale enterprises, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and startups are benefiting from tailor-made, refined innovations such as cloud computing models and AI assistants, both domestically and globally.

The digital economy has become a stabilizer and an accelerator for China’s economy, with 11 Chinese tech companies making it to the list of the thirty most valuable Internet companies globally, just below the U.S. This sector’s innovation is generating employment opportunities and encouraging change.

Edward Cai, the Chief Commercial Officer of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, notes that AI-based innovation has been adopted by many SMEs in China, such as a dry fruit producer in Fujian and a smart car company in Hubei, and is leading the transformation.

The digital economy in China, which accounts for over 40 percent of the country’s GDP, exceeded seven trillion U.S. dollars in value last year. Experts are optimistic that it will continue to strengthen its role as an engine for economic growth.

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