Editor's note: China has seen tremendous changes nationwide, from economic growth to environmental protection, from social improvement to cultural progress. In this series, China Daily maps the changes and tells the stories of the people who lived through them.
Visitors take pictures of robot cows at an Internet Expo in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, last year. [Photo by ZHAI HUIYONG/FOR CHINA DAILY]
As a national pioneer of the digital economy, province eyes innovation to boost growth
Zhejiang's economy has maintained strong high-quality development over the past five years, particularly its digital economy, and the province's inhabitants are reaping its rewards in terms of an improved environment and rising disposable incomes, especially in rural areas.
According to an announcement at the province's Digital Economy High-Quality Development Conference on July 13, the digital economy accounted for 48.6 percent of Zhejiang's GDP last year, an increase of 10 percent since 2017.
It was valued at 3.6 trillion yuan ($532.4 billion) last year, ranking fourth in the country. Meanwhile, the province's industrial digitalization index ranked first nationally according to the Digital China Development Report (2020).
Currently, research and development accounts for 7.3 percent of the added value, and there are now more than 11,000 high-tech companies engaged in the province's digital economy. National laboratories and large scientific installations based there have made a number of breakthroughs including achievements such as brain-like computing chips and Apsara operating system.
According to Wang Yiming, former deputy director of the Development Research Center at the State Council, "saving costs and improving efficiency are the core issues in the high-quality development of the digital economy, and technological innovation is key."
Children display their paper-cutting artworks themed on the Asian Games in Huzhou, Zhejiang, in April. [Photo by ZHOU HONGFENG/FOR CHINA DAILY]
Wang sees digital platforms as empowering the development of the real economies of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and improving their production efficiency.
In the digital era, companies should make innovation a top priority and use innovation-driven strategies in the digital economy to shift from quantitative growth to high-quality development, according to Dong Yunting, director of the expert committee at the China Federation of Electronics and Information Industry.
As a pioneering province in the development of the national digital economy, Zhejiang has firmly grasped the historical opportunity presented by the scientific and technological revolution and also by the industrial transformation in the past five years, especially since it was cleared for the creation of the first lot of national digital economy innovation and development pilot zones.
The Digital Zhejiang concept was proposed as early as 2003, with continuous efforts made toward that goal by the government since then. Last year, Zhejiang authorities began the province's digital reform and invested 149.55 billion yuan in digital economy projects.
According to Yao Gaoyuan, director of Zhejiang's Economic and Information Department, the province will work toward raising the value of its digital economy to 7 trillion yuan and raise that of its core industries to 1.6 trillion yuan in the next five years. Zhejiang will also focus on making breakthroughs in high-performance professional chips, intelligent systems and supercomputing.
Farmers work on a pearl clam pond in Huzhou in February. [Photo by WANG ZHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY]
Meanwhile, its digital economy will be driven by gathering high-quality resources, such as those now found in the Hangzhou West Science and Innovation Corridor.
Zhejiang province has played an instrumental role in enhancing government services and functions in recent years by fully leveraging the internet and introducing strong policy and technical support through the launch of an online government service platform called Zheliban, which is linked to the provision of numerous public services.
There has also been marked progress in efforts to build this data platform, which has streamlined administrative procedures and reduced associated material costs by sharing data online. Zheliban aids the mutual recognition of cross-departmental information and improves the efficiency of multi-departmental affairs, enhancing the transparency and openness of government.
In pioneering the digital transformation of government in China, Zhejiang took the national lead in the provision of online services in 2014, further refining these through the "At Most One Visit" program in 2016, through which individuals and companies are able to fulfill administrative procedures in a single visit to authorities.
The province advanced a strategy of promoting overall government digitalization in 2018 and established a digital government system covering the entire province by the end of 2020. It plans to achieve the full integration of digital technologies and government performance by 2022.
An aerial view of Jiaxing, Zhejiang province. [Photo by WANG ZHIJIE/FOR CHINA DAILY]
Zhejiang has also promoted the transformation of public services in various fields, from government supply to public demand through digital reform, according to Chen Chouyong, professor at the Hangzhou Dianzi University and Dean of the Zhejiang Institute of Information Technology Development.
He added that digital and intelligent methods fully leverage the government's key role in the supply and guarantee of basic public services, while better satisfying the public's needs and making the public service system more targeted, fair and efficient.
Health codes help
Hangzhou, Zhejiang's provincial capital, launched a health QR code system on Feb 11, 2020, to help curb the spread of the coronavirus as it sought to restart production. Not long after, other cities in the Yangtze River Delta also began using QR health codes, which were linked to the epidemic prevention and control information network, by relying on big data, cloud computing, and other technologies.
On March 5, 2020, the Yangtze River Delta region was the first area in the country to achieve full health code coverage, which extended to Shanghai and Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces.
Those seeking to enter these areas must report their travel history and health online in advance before being assigned green, yellow, or red codes based on the information they offer.