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Internet Plus: A driving force of China’s economy

Updated: Aug 8,2015 4:58 PM

Premier Li Keqiang visits Webank, China’s first Internet-based banking service, in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Jan 4.

The Premier pressed a button on a computer. Instantly, a truck driver got his 35,000 yuan ($5638.5) loan from an Internet bank.

This happened when Premier Li Keqiang visited the first private Internet bank of China in Shenzhen on January 4, 2015. He was invited to grant the first loan of the virtual bank to Xu Jun, a lucky truck driver who had never imagined that one day he would get a loan from an Internet bank.

Just two months after his visit, Premier Li announced the Internet Plus strategy in his government work report to promote the healthy development of Internet finance.

The State Council executive meetings have discussed Internet-related industries many times, with 12 issues discussed during the 100 meetings presided by the Premier being about the Internet.

The Internet Plus action plan was unveiled for the first time in the government work report that Premier Li Keqiang delivered to national lawmakers on March 5.

According to Premier Li, Internet Plus has the potential to transform China’s economy.

He said that China has 700 million netizens and a huge Internet market, which means that with the help of the collective wisdom of the Internet, netizens have tremendous power to shape the market.

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, could hardly imagine that 25 years later China could surpass the United States to be the largest Internet market in the world.

The Internet might not be new anymore. But Internet Plus is new in China as it is part of the great reform which also includes streamlining administration and delegating powers to lower-level governments and mass entrepreneurship and innovation.

Premier Li strongly supports new Internet-related industries like e-commerce as he pointed out at a State Council executive meeting on April 1 that one should “never take e-commerce as just a virtual economy.”

Premier Li has been planning for the future of Internet Plus at previous executive meetings, including providing hardware support to guarantee the development of Internet Plus. For example, the executive meeting on May 13 decided to accelerate the building of a high-speed network with lower charges.

He tries to remove unreasonable systems and policies which hamper the development of Internet Plus. For instance, the executive meeting on Oct 24 decided to overhaul intermediary services and service fees and standardize import and export orders.

He also proposed that an open information-sharing platform be built for Internet Plus. The executive meeting on Jan 1 encouraged “Internet thinking” in promoting the reform of the administrative approval system.

More importantly such measures to strengthen the profound integration of Internet Plus with other industries will not only provide a nursery for new industries.

At the executive meeting on June 24, Premier Li stressed the importance of increased safety awareness in developing Internet Plus. While lowering the barriers to market entry, the government needs to strengthen supervision and create a fair and competitive environment, thus leading to the natural development of related industries, said the Premier.

Administrative streamlining, combining supervision with power delegation, optimizing services, promoting business startups, mass innovation and Internet Plus are a series of polices along the same lines, he said.

Putting these policies in place will help cultivate a new driving force for the economy and create a new growth engine for future development, he added.

At an executive meeting Premier Li said about his inspection tour of the Zhongguancun area, “We may now stand at the same starting line with the developed countries in information and especially in the Internet and even have more advantages than them in some aspects.’’

Taking advantage of Internet Plus China might create an economic take-off, Premier Li said at a press conference following the two sessions.

This is his acute judgment of the world economic trend and also reflects his profound thinking for China’s future economic development.

The State Council on July 4 unveiled its Internet Plus action plan which maps development targets and supportive measures for key sectors, which the government hopes can establish new industrial modes, including mass entrepreneurship and innovation, manufacturing, agriculture, energy, finance, public services, logistics, e-commerce, traffic, biology and artificial intelligence.

Analysts believe that the action plan will speed up the development of Internet Plus, create new economic drivers and forming new economic patterns. The United Morning Post was even more optimistic, stating that Internet Plus will become the driving force for China’s economic, social and innovation development.

At the executive meeting on June 24, the Premier said that history is created by people and the people are full of rich and fantastic ideas so the development of Internet Plus should be decided by the consumers and the people.