Sharing a Smarter World: Guangzhou Envisions a Digital Future in South Pacific

GUANGZHOU, China, Nov. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- About 6,000 kilometers away from China lies the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG), the South Pacific island country where the 2018 APEC Summit is hosted. Despite the long distance, people-to-people exchange between the two nations dates back to the maritime trade before the 19th century. Even today, stories about deep ties and mutual benefits continue, especially for the southern Chinese city Guangzhou.

Initiated by the State Council Information Office of China and organized by the Information Office of the People's Government of Guangzhou Municipality, two story-sharing sessions on friendly exchanges between China and PNG and between China and Brunei, respectively, took place on the sidelines of the APEC meeting. Over 100 guests from local political, business, academic and media communities shared stories about their business and people-to-people exchanges with each other and consolidated the already close ties for a digital future.

"We hope that the efforts made by technological frontrunners, iFlytek for example, enable kids living in the rural areas of PNG to hopefully speak fluent English while equally receiving the smart education. Average people can enjoy greater convenience that a smart city has to offer via remote services. With the voice-based electronic medical record system, doctors are able to enhance efficiency," said Du Lan, senior vice president of iFlytek, a Chinese tech firm, at the China-PNG session on November 12.

At the event, Guangzhou connected to the local people by conveying a sense of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation that China has always been promoting. Beyond that, introduction to its high-tech companies and their products demonstrated how the city intends to deepen international cooperation in a bid to share digital development dividends with the people of China and many other countries.

For a long time, with sincere cooperation based on mutual benefit with PNG and other South Pacific island countries under the framework of South-South Cooperation, China has helped boost the local economic and social development and enhance their independent development ability. With nongovernmental contacts as the fulcrum, come rising momentum in joint cooperation in people-to-people exchanges, project construction, and scientific and technological innovation, ranging from public infrastructure like water conservancy facilities, schools, community recreation centers, to economic and trade investment as well as tourism.

In fact, with the deepening cooperative efforts, the South Pacific region is experiencing an obvious improvement, in terms of infrastructure, and the soft environment, represented by PNG.

"It is expected that the UAV transportation, driven by the high-speed communication network, will make breakthroughs for PNG in areas like air transportation and emergency rescue," said Tang Zhejun, vice president of Ehang, a Guangzhou-based drone manufacturer, at the session. As the World's Best Innovative Company of 2016 by Fast Company, the firm has indigenously developed the Ehang 184, world's first low-altitude passenger drone for short-to-medium distance.

China's digital economy, led by big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, is thriving and the force powering it has been attributed to the major progress of advanced technologies in recent years.

China ranks second in the world by the digital economy development index, only after the U.S., as shown in the 2018 Global Digital Economy Development Index released by institutions including AliResearch, the thinktank of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba, and KPMG, a globally-renowned professional accounting firm. The report also indicates that China tops the sub-index of digital economy consumers. As a pioneer of China's reform and opening up, Guangzhou acts as a magnet for factors of innovation and an important pillar of China's digital economic landscape.

Guangzhou's 12-sq-km Pazhou Internet Innovation Cluster is inviting an influx of well-known companies, including Tencent, Alibaba and iFlytek and receiving more than 72.5 billion yuan (USD 10.4 billion) worth of investment, making it a hotspot of the global digital economy.

"With innovative thinking, the time-honored yet fast-growing Guangzhou has well overtaken numerous emerging cities. It's undoubtedly inspiring us as we are determined go global for better development," said Raka Taviri, managing director of EDA RANU and Water PNG Ltd., at the story-sharing session.

"I am hopeful that more countries, China and PNG included, will further enhance core technology innovation and global cooperation and build a mutually benefiting AI industrial system for a digital future shared by the whole world," said Du Lan.

China and PNG are planning for more potential areas of cooperation in the long run, given that the bilateral relations enter into a new era. As China is elevating its economy to new heights, PNG would put in place an exchange mechanism of the local currency against RMB for deeper cooperation on business and people-to-people exchanges, noted Carl Kerepa Yalo, the economic consultant for PNG's Prime Minister.

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