China, ASEAN forge deeper digital economy cooperation

NANNING (XINHUA) – Not just Chinese shoppers but consumers in Southeast Asia were also revved up for China’s annual ‘double 11’ online shopping festival this year.

Founded in 2012, Lazada, a leading Southeast Asian e-commerce platform backed by China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, launched its own version of a ‘double 11’ shopping spree this year.

Lazada’s business is present in six countries in the region – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Data showed that over 350,000 brands and online outlets, including thousands of new brands, participated in Lazada 11.11 Biggest One-Day Sale.

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have witnessed robust trade growth.

In the first 10 months of the year, China-ASEAN bilateral trade volume reached CNY3.79 trillion (about USD571.64 billion), accounting for 14.6 per cent of China’s foreign trade, up seven per cent from the same period last year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Meanwhile, with conventional trade surging, China and ASEAN have deepened cooperation in the digital economy, manifesting huge potential to boost market consumption.

In order to foster a bilateral e-commerce industry chain, Guangxi Tus-Innovation Cross Border E-commerce Co, Ltd, whose headquarters is in Nanning, the permanent venue of the China-ASEAN Expo, has cooperated with Alibaba to build Lazada cross-border Eco-Innovation Service Center (Nanning) since 2019. The centre has served more than 30 well-known Chinese companies, incubated over 400 small and medium-sized cross-border online retailers, and trained more than 1,000 e-commerce professionals, according to the company.

“Guangxi is China’s gateway to ASEAN. Thanks to cross-border e-commerce platforms, more and more products are being traded online in the region,” said Ding Guoxun, general manager of the company.

Peking University International Studies Professor Zhai Kun said although the pandemic has severely hit the global economy, upgrading Internet technology has brought countries virtually closer.

“Digital services, including online cross-border shopping, online education and telemedicine, are more widely used and the consumption patterns of global consumers continue to be innovated with the development of the digital economy,” Zhai added.

China’s value-added digital economy registered CNY35.8 trillion in 2019, accounting for 36.2 per cent of the country’s GDP, up by 1.4 percentage points compared with the previous year, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.

This year is designated as the China-ASEAN Year of Digital Economy Cooperation. ASEAN’s digital economy is estimated to increase from 1.3 per cent of GDP in 2015 to 8.5 per cent in 2025, according to Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi.

China is leading in the development of digital infrastructure and is an important partner of ASEAN to promote the digital economy in the region, Dato Paduka Lim noted.

The China-ASEAN Information Harbor Co Ltd, a Guangxi-based info-tech company, has been committed to China-ASEAN digital and information industrial cooperation over the past few years.

Li Ying, general manager of the company’s overseas cooperation department, said the company has provided its independently developed epidemic management and control platform and infrared temperature detector to some ASEAN member countries to aid their fight against COVID-19.

Besides, some apps developed by the company have been used in ASEAN member countries. “The app’s business volume has increased from CNY1 million to CNY2 million from March to May this year,” said Li, noting that it has boosted their confidence in the ASEAN market.

Consulate General of Malaysia in Nanning’s Consul General Azlimi Zakaria said China’s digital infrastructure, such as 5G, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things, have developed rapidly in recent years, benefiting the digital trade between ASEAN and China.

Hailing China’s rapid development, the Malaysian diplomat said ASEAN has continued to benefit from China’s development of digital technologies, adding that more ASEAN products will enter China’s market.