China releases three year action plan for information technology consumption

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China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the National Development and Reform Commission have jointly released The Three-Year Action Plan to Expand and Upgrade Information Consumption (2018-2020) (in Chinese).

The Action Plan is part of the National Congress’ advocacy to encourage domestic consumption. According to the document, China aims to expand the scale of information technology-related consumption to RMB 6 trillion and maintain an average annual growth of the sector at 11% by 2020. In the same period, 98% of villages in China will have established a 4G network.

The Action Plan stresses four main sectors: new information technology supplies, information services, consumption willingness building, and the improvement of information technology’s business environment. The document also hopes to encourage individual and institutional consumption of IoT services, intelligent communication devices including AI/AR products, and industrial equipment such as high-tech screens and autonomous driving components.

The Action Plan’s major concern, in nature, is the real economy. Information technology backed fintech, blockchain algorithms, and other business forms with few practical cases in real economic activities are not listed in the document. This signals that China is taking the technology as a tool instead of a separate economic segment.

Early in April, Chen Zhaoxiong, the Vice Minister at MIIT, said the next phase for China’s economic development would be cultivating long-term growth power. He added that work has to be done to serve the real economy’s practical needs. Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei, expressed a similar opinion in a meeting in Barcelona in July.

While state government plans to maintain a gross GDP growth higher than 6%, the country’s business owners are complaining about a shortage of capital and poor financial liquidity. Even if the central bank decides to release more liquidity to ease the pain, businesses from the supply side need time to digest policy influences and improve performances.

The Action Plan is also a clear signal of intense input in information related production and consumption. China is hoping to optimize domestic consumption structures with more added-value products and services. The strong growth of the information industry and a stable stream of revenues will accelerate the country’s core information research with massive use cases and data resources.