China should lead global data services development: expert
By Global Business

As business and trade have been severely affected by the long-lasting COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for data services has been surging and indicating a promising market for who can take the opportunity, experts said during an interview with CGTN when China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) was held in Beijing.

In the post-pandemic period, it is an opportunity for China to "take the lead to harmonize data privacy and data localization rules to enable truly global data services," according to Christopher Thomas, the CEO of Integrated Insights and a visiting professor at China's Tsinghua University.

Thomas agrees that more international cooperation is needed in the service trade sector, adding that digitization and 5G can turbocharge the service trade.

In fact, digital services have become an important new driver of economic growth in China, which has one of the most advanced digital ecosystems in the world.

The digital economy accounted for 38 percent in the added-value of China's service industry in 2019, according to data from Shenzhen-based Qianzhan Industry Research Institute.

The institute also notes China's online consumer service has increased almost tenfold from 2013 to 2018, reaching over 3630 billion yuan (around 530 billion U.S. dollars).

Tech consulting company IDC predicts that Chinese companies will invest more than one trillion U.S. dollars in digital transformation over the next three years, focusing on making the customer experience better and more appealing.

Thomas said that China is leading the growth of digital services and investments. And not only limited in the business-to-consumer sector, more and more Chinese companies in the field of business-to-business (B2B) services realize that "digital is their future".

Meanwhile, he highlights three big strengths of China in terms of underlying digital infrastructure.

"One is the telecommunications network. This is really how everything gets transmitted around. Secondly is around the digitalization of money and payments, where China is a leader. And finally, China has tremendous physical infrastructure linked to the digital infrastructure, which enables things like e-commerce to operate seamlessly," the CEO detailed.

Thomas also believed that China, as a fast technology adopter, could take the lead in terms of openness in the post-pandemic period.

He said that there are up to countries globally that have data localization rules, and the different systems have set obstacles for global services, and China could take the lead to harmonize the differences to enable truly global data services.