China is committed to the development of the digital Silk Road, which will transform links between countries, according to a government official.[Special Coverage]
"We will actively promote the digital Silk Road to construct a community of common destiny in cyberspace," said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice-minister of industry and information technology, during the 4th World Internet Conference held in Wuzhen.
"In the era of economic globalization, China's information communication industry will not only pay attention to development within our borders but also other countries across the world," he said.
In 2016, China's digital economy grew 18.9 percent and contributed 22.6 trillion yuan (.35 trillion) to the country's economy, according to a report from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.
"As both a practitioner and beneficiary of the digital economy, China is willing to deepen and widen coordination and cooperation with countries around the world to benefit people," said Lin Nianxiu, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner.
The forum was also addressed by Dominique de Villepin, former prime minister of France, who emphasized that he welcomed China's active moves to create the digital Silk Road.
He said it was important that more countries had good digital access, otherwise it would become a source of greater inequality in the world, contrasting that while in the West and in parts of Asia, digital penetration was around 80 percent, this was not the case everywhere.
Chinese companies were beginning to take the lead in the global digital economy, with 2017 seeing the major listed Chinese tech companies being valued more than their US counterparts in terms of their market capitalization.
"There has been a technological shift from West to East with the rise of internet champions in China as an alternative to those in the US and it is a turning point," he added.
China has made breakthroughs in a number of fields of telecommunications and has pioneered areas including shared bikes and payment through smartphones.
In terms of future development, Chen from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that China can cooperate with other countries on cross-border e-commerce and improve the level of logistics which can provide convenience for digitalization. Commercial networks, online education and medical services, and social media are among some of the key areas.
"To seize the opportunity brought by the revolution in information communication technology, China, together with other countries, can also make technological breakthroughs in areas including 4G and 5G, artificial intelligence, industrial internet, cloud computing and big data," he added.