Internet economy on the cusp of expansion

Internet economy on the cusp of expansion

5G chips on display at a trade show in Shanghai. [Photo/China Daily]

China’s sprawling internet economy is entering a new phase of development as the country makes strides towards building world-leading digital infrastructure and exploring various applications of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, experts said.

Shang Bing, president of the Internet Society of China, said that accelerating the development of the digital economy represented by the Internet has become a strategic choice to seize the new round of scientific and technological revolution and new opportunities for industrial transformation.

According to a report released by the Internet Society of China, the number of Internet users in China exceeds one billion and that of 5G users exceeds 650 million, both ranking first in the world.

Meanwhile, China’s network architecture continues to be optimized, with network quality reaching or even exceeding the level of developed countries in Europe, the report said.

The country also leads the world in quantum communication and artificial intelligence and filed nearly 3.2 trillion patent applications in the field of information and communication in 2022, representing 37 percent of total global applications in that area, the report said.

In addition, China’s total computing power reached 180 EFLOPS by the end of last year, ranking second in the world after the United States.

EFLOPS is a unit of computer system speed, equal to one quintillion floating point operations per second.

Xie Cun, head of the information and communication development department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said the ministry will introduce new policies to promote the development of high-quality computing power infrastructure, further strengthen the high-level design and improve the comprehensive computing power supply capacity.

The policy proposal follows expectations that China’s computing power industry will usher in new development opportunities for major Chinese technology companies that have launched ChatGPT-like AI chatbots, which have higher requirements for computing power in the AI ‚Äč‚Äčlarge language model training process.

Large language models, or LLMs, are computer algorithms fed massive amounts of textual data for use in a variety of tasks, ranging from natural language processing to machine translation. They are the key technologies behind ChatGPT-like products.

Data from the Internet Society of China showed that China has developed more than 80 LLMs, or ChatGPT rivals, that are driving the application of AI across multiple industries.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is focusing on computing power development needs. He said that more efforts will be made to improve independent innovation capabilities in areas such as computer architecture and computer algorithms, and to strengthen the research and development of key products such as AI chips and computer servers.

Zhang Yunming, deputy minister of industry and information technology, said that in the digital economy era, computing power has become crucial in all fields of production and life, such as water and electricity, and is injecting new impetus into the digital transformation of all walks of life.

China’s core computing power industry sales revenue reached 1.8 trillion yuan (US$251 billion) in 2022, according to estimates by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. Each yuan invested in computing power will result in economic growth of 3-4 yuan in GDP.

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