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Building a sustainable digital world
Author:Ma Feicheng  Date:2019-03-22  Clicks:

Recent years have witnessed the rapid development of digital economy in fields of mobile payment, online shopping and sharing economy, which has profoundly changed people's production and lifestyle. Building a sustainable digital world requires greater efforts to strengthen innovation in information technology, enhance digitalization, improve the system of laws and regulations, and actively participate in international cooperation.

In this era, information technology has grown fast with wide application. Digitalization has penetrated into all aspects of social production and people’s life, forming a new digital economy. Information technology, represented by the Internet, big data and artificial intelligence, has become a new driver for global economic growth. President Xi Jinping emphasized that joint efforts must be stepped up to promote global digitalization to build a sustainable digital world. This has pointed out the direction so as to seize the opportunities brought by a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation for sustainable and healthy development of digitalization.

In recent years, China's digital economy has enjoyed a high-speed development under the impetus of strategic measures, such as the “Cyber Power Strategy”, “Digital China Strategy” and “Smart Society Strategy”. By June 2018, the number of Internet users in China had reached 802 million against an Internet penetration rate of 57.7%. The number of online payment users had reached 569 million, of which the mobile payment users were 566 million. The digital economy is booming in fields of mobile payment, online shopping and sharing economy, and changes people’s production and lifestyle in a profound way. To build a sustainable digital world, we should focus on the crucial fields and continue to strengthen the efforts.

To reinforce innovation in information technology is required for constructing a sustainable digital world. The rise of information technologies, such as big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing, has provided infinite possibilities for the development of digital economy. To seize this strategic opportunity, reinforcements of investment in the research and development of information technologies are in need to create more digital dividend beneficiaries and accelerate industrial upgrading. In spite of current skyrocketing, of China's digital economy there is still much room for improvement in term of core technologies. It proves that countries in short of core technologies will fall dependents of others. Faced with complex environment and fierce competition around the world, we must show more courage and wisdom to bridge the technology gap and make key breakthroughs by formulating a reality-based and future-oriented development strategy and further strengthening basic research.

A continuously higher digitization level is a must for constructing a sustainable digital world. China's digital economy is growing fast with strong momentum, but problems like unbalanced development still exist. For example, digital application and innovation are still insufficient in industrial and agricultural fields, and social governance and public services are suffering from low level digitalization. The growth of digital economy needs to be supported by information infrastructure.  The construction and upgrading of information infrastructure can be a massive  and highly difficult task in China, such a country with a vast territory. We must adhere to overall planning and focus on bridging the digital divide among different regions and industries. At present, we should push forward the application of digital technologies to industrial and agricultural fields. While market is brought into full play, supporting policies will be carried out to guide digital technologies to continue to take effect in fields of smart manufacturing and smart agriculture, so that information technology can better serve economic and social development.

A set of full-fledged laws and regulations are necessary for constructing a sustainable digital world. The technological revolution will not only bring about economic and social changes, but also call for adjustment and improvement of laws and regulations. The innovation and application of information technology, such as big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing, have greatly advanced the digital economy. However, ethical and legal problems or hidden risks may come along, including problems having arisen in fields of personal information protection, data ownership, and intellectual property protection, and other problems that may arise in areas of autonomous driving and intelligent robot development. Effective solutions to these problems require timely adjustment and improvement of relevant laws and regulations.

Active global collaboration is of equal significance for constructing a sustainable digital world. This is determined by the openness and shared features of information technology and resources. Nowadays, more frequent cross-border exchanges and cooperation of information technology are accompanied by such cyberspace risks as cyberterrorism and cybercrime, which requires co-governance of the international community. To build a sustainable digital world, we need international regulations binding all countries and regions. In recent years, China has strengthened exchanges and cooperation with relevant countries and advocated abandoning zero-sum game for jointly coping with risks of digital space and sharing dividends of digital economy. This is of great significance for establishing and improving a global rule-based system in the digital economy, building a sustainable digital world, and enhancing the common well-being of the information age.

(Ma Feicheng, a professor of the School of Information Management, Wuhan University and a senior professor of humanities and social sciences.)

Source: People's Daily, February 26th, 2019.


Rewritten by Liang Guoying

Edited by Zhang Shiqi, Shen Yuxi and Hu Sijia)


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