China’s growing technological expertise along its digital silk route should set benchmarks for the rest of the world to follow, analysts say. The ambitious president of China Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) started the digital silk road long before the rest of the world started talking about connected smart cities and tech-driven solutions.
As China continues to expand its digital footprint in industries as diverse as cloud computing, 5G, surveillance technology and virtual currency, observers are seeing movement in some areas towards Chinese technological dominance.
China is already a world leader in publications and patents on artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, 5G and quantum technology. Data is fueling the development of AI and, thanks to its sprawling surveillance apparatus, China has access to immense amounts of it, so China seems well positioned to become a leader in this field.
China has already launched the world’s largest blockchain ecosystem, connected to over 100 urban nodes, and was the first country to launch large-scale pilot projects of a digital fiat currency – the electronic cash payment system. digital (DCEP). Analysts agree that China has made huge inroads in some future technologies. Advances in technology enable China to promote the progress of the BRI more effectively, increase the ties between China and the BRI countries, and push forward difficult BRI projects.
How technology is incorporated into BRI projects will depend very much on the nature of the projects. This will vary by region and country.
– Associate researcher, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore
The world’s leading Chinese fiber optic industry is already helping BRI countries switch from traditional energy sources to renewable energy sources. Many BRI-aligned countries are rich in solar energy resources, but “lack the technologies and resources to build renewable energy infrastructure. Through the BRI, China can export advanced renewable energy technologies to BRI countries, and Chinese fiber optic companies can benefit from local preferential policies, including tax incentives and preferential treatment for imports. equipment.
In some areas of infrastructure, such as high-speed railways, 5G networks, and ultra-high voltage power grids, Chinese standards have become international standards as everyone is catching up. Therefore, by collaborating with Chinese companies, BRI partner countries can adopt technologies that meet the most advanced standards in their infrastructure projects.
China’s technological prowess gives it an advantage in pushing the BRI’s tough projects, such as renewables, transport, infrastructure, power and healthcare, because in today’s world focused on technology, the digital domain is closely linked to physical infrastructure.
Railways, ports and power grids, for example, could not operate efficiently today without software, sensors and cybersecurity. China also provides a useful benchmark for BIS countries with its models of digital transformation and industrial digitization. Most of the BIS countries are developing countries and have limited experience in dealing with digital technology, but can benefit from China’s digitization experiences.
Since the BRI is primarily a finance / investment mechanism, exporting technology adds a different dimension to all of the BIS assistance. Most BRI projects already depend on the use of Chinese equipment and manpower, so any kind of technological advancement could just mean better or more efficient projects.
Anything digital will also tend to require more investment, and “the financial capacity of BRI beneficiary markets will also be called into question here, especially if those markets prioritize the development of adequate infrastructure to meet demand. first to their national needs. The best way for BRI partner countries to take advantage of China’s technological prowess is to partner with Chinese operators.
As the West has focused too much on profits and not enough on cash flow activities and service lines, China is developing technologies to connect its services to supply chains to generate cash flow. . This business model is relatively more sustainable than profit-driven models.