BEIJING, July 10 (Xinhua) -- While the digital economy is expanding fast, China will take more measures to promote sustainable and healthy development of the Internet sector for in-depth integration of digital and real economies.
As a key factor driving digitalization, the Internet has prompted digital economy to be a new engine of China's economic growth, said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice minister of industry and information technology, on Tuesday at China Internet Conference.
In 2018, China's digital economy reached 31.3 trillion yuan (4.55 trillion U.S. dollars), accounting for 34.8 percent of the country's GDP and contributing 67.9 percent of GDP growth, and 191 million jobs were offered in the digital economy, accounting for 24.6 percent of overall employment, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT).
Rapid growth of the sector came as China continuously strengthened its Internet infrastructure. Last year, over 98 percent of the population has been covered with 4G networks as more than 3.7 million 4G base stations have been built.
To forge information infrastructure essential for the integration of digital and real economies, China will accelerate the development of 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), industrial Internet and the Internet-of-Things (IoT), Chen said.
Markets of China's AI, IoT and big data have grown to 33.9 billion yuan, 1.2 trillion yuan and 540.5 billion yuan last year respectively.
A forecast from the Global System for Mobile Communications Alliance (GSMA) said that 28 percent of China's mobile connections will be running on 5G networks by 2025, accounting for about one-third of all 5G connections globally.
In-depth integration of 5G, AI, IoT and big data will bring profound changes to all sectors, said Mats Granryd, director general of GSMA.
Digitalization in agriculture, industry and tertiary sectors will all be promoted by integrating the Internet, big data and AI, said Chen, adding that China would endeavor to make breakthroughs in core and critical technologies, while basic sciences will be enhanced to promote original innovation.
Market scale of smart agriculture in China, supported by IoT technology and faster network connection, is predicted to reach 26.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, up 14.3 percent on average year-on-year since 2015, said the CAICT report, while manufacturing companies which have applied the industrial Internet have enhanced their productivity by over 20 percent.
Backed by proactive government support, China is now at the forefront of the development and mass deployment of innovative and transformative IoT based solutions based on mobile IoT technology, said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer of GSMA.
"China will also supply comprehensive telecommunication services and narrow the digital gap and promote global cooperation," Chen said.