China is speeding up still further its ‘internet revolution.’ From the viewpoint of China’s overall economic strategy premier Li Keqiang has launched the concept of ‘Internet Plus’ – emphasising integrating the mobile Internet, cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things with manufacturing and e-commerce. To further boost Internet use the premier recently urged China’s telecommunications operators to enhance Internet speeds and cut prices.
China’s still greater emphasis on the internet is even more impressive as it is in a context that China already has by far the world’s greatest number of internet users – 642 million in 2014, compared to the US’s 280 million and India’s 243 million. From a global perspective 21% of the world’s internet users are in China compared to 9% in the US.
Equally striking is the build-up of China’s investment in Information and Communications Technology ( ICT) of which the Internet is at the core. Over the last two decades China’s investment in ICT was already generating 1.0% a year total GDP growth – out of an average 8.8% annual expansion. As the Table shows over the last 20 years China’s annual GDP growth created by ICT investment was already significantly higher than any other major industrial or BRIC economy – for example two thirds higher than the US, over twice that of Germany and three times that of Japan.
But even given this high level of achievement China’s further push into the internet is vital for economic strategy. In a modern economy the internet has expanded far beyond its original use with computers to become the most rapidly growing sector of telecommunications, retailing, and application to advanced manufacturing – hence the key idea of ‘Internet Plus’.