Interview: Innovation is driving force of China’s “unbelievable” progress

By Grandesso Federico, Zheng Jianghua (Xinhua)

BRUSSELS, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) — Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has made “unbelievable” progress in the past five years and has become a global leader in innovation, said a European business leader.

“The progress of China in the last five years is unbelievable,” Luigi Gambardella, president of ChinaEU, a business-led international digital association in Brussels, told Xinhua in a recent interview following the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The achievements were made “despite the fact that the country is undergoing profound and complex changes needed to re-balance the economic model to one that focuses on internal consumption and high-quality growth,” he added.

Regarding the driving force of China’s striking economic development, which has seen its GDP rise from 8 trillion U.S. dollars to 12 trillion dollars and 60 million people lifted out of poverty during Xi’s first term, Gambardella underscored the role of innovation.

“China has become a country of innovators,” he said. “Innovation is the strategic underpinning for building a modernized economy. And China will further promote research in science and technology.”

Noting that China has become a global leader in innovation, he said China will double down on “promoting the integration of the Internet, big data and artificial intelligence with the real economy, and fostering new growth areas like the sharing economy.”

“Just to make one example in the telecom sector. According to estimates, China will invest more than 411 billion U.S. dollars in 5G and by 2022 will have more than 588 million Chinese users,” said the digital association chief.

Particularly, he took note of fiber connections in China’s rural areas, saying that “at this stage one can forecast that fiber connections in the rural communities will be a flagship measure.”

Rural fiber connections, he said, will allow countryside households to benefit from the competing services provided by China’s thriving digital ecosystem and enable the modernization of agriculture.

“Today, broadband and data exchange are the fuel of economic development. Connecting the rural communities will connect them to the global cyberspace,” he stressed.

In regards to the future relationship between the EU and China, Gambardella said Europe is eyeing a “more and more open China.”

“In his report to the 19th CPC National Congress, President Xi clarified that China will significantly ease market access, further open the service sector and protect legitimate right and interests of foreign investors. All businesses registered in China will be treated equally,” he said.

“Europe should try to increase the level of engagement and focus on the business opportunities that can be created,” he said.

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