BEIJING — China, which boasts epochal inventions in ancient times, has once again demonstrated its ability to change the world with its “new four great inventions”: high-speed railways, electronic payments, shared bicycles and online shopping.
The four innovative ways of life were most appealing to youths from 20 countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, according to a survey by the Belt and Road Research Institute of Beijing Foreign Studies University.
“The ‘new four great inventions’ are all related to China’s high-tech innovation, which improved the quality of people’s lives,” said Wu Hao, executive director of the BRRI.
“My wallet is no longer in use. I can buy and eat whatever I want simply with a (tap of) fingertip on my phone,” said Lin Jinlong, an overseas Chinese student from Cambodia, adding that “even pancake sellers are using Alipay (mobile payment).
“We can also order food at home, which is super convenient. If I were at home in Cambodia, I would have to go outdoors.”
The bikes themselves are not new, but the operating model of bike-sharing is based on satellite navigation system, mobile payment, big data and other high technologies.
Chinese entrepreneurs have surprised the world with the business model of bike-sharing which incorporates those technologies, and are entering overseas markets such as Singapore and Britain.
China has entered a new innovative era, thanks to the large amounts of capital China has invested in encouraging innovation, said Bernhard Schwartlander, World Health Organization Representative in China.
As a huge fan of bicycles, he also expressed his affection for China’s shared bicycles, saying that “shared bikes are bringing cycling back to people’s lives ... and they are making public transport more attractive and convenient, and encouraging people to be more active.”
Rebacca Fannin, founder and editor of Silicon Dragon, noted that China is beginning to lead in innovation in some ways.
“It is increasingly clear that China is innovating and no longer copying Western ideas. This is especially true in mobile, where China is leading in many ways such as ... social messaging app WeChat,” she said.
“This is partly because China skipped over the PC era and went directly to mobile. China has the largest mobile use in the world.”
Yoneyama Haruko, an expert with the China Research and Communication Center of the Japan Science and Technology Agency, said Chinese people’s lives have become more and more convenient due to abundant technology usage, adding that Japan has been falling behind China in technological innovation for the past 10 years or so.
With regard to the “new four great inventions”, Charlie Dai, principal analyst of American market research company Forrester, said these products and services have definitely improved customer experience, boosting national and global economy at the same time.
Statistics show that technological progress contributed 56.2 percent to China’s economic growth in 2016.
A growing number of foreigners hope to promote economic development in their home countries by highlighting the need for technological achievements like that of China.
Lin cited his experience of traveling by Chinese high-speed train from Beijing to the coastal city of Tianjin more than 100 km away. The journey takes only half an hour, while in Cambodia, which has only two railways, such a journey may take up to three hours.
“As a Chinese saying goes, ‘Building roads is the first step of getting rid of poverty’, and Cambodia can achieve faster economic growth by introducing Chinese high-speed trains,” Lin said.
Wu said Lin’s view appears to suggest that youths of countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative wish their home countries would emulate China in terms of technological achievements.