On 12 June 2020，the opening ceremony of the ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation was launched via teleconference. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, whose country chairs the ASEAN rotating presidency, sent congratulatory messages to the event.
In his message, Li said that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the importance of digital economy further highlighted in restoring economic and social development, creating more jobs and improving people's well-being. Li expressed the hope that ASEAN and China can take the ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation as an opportunity and make good use of the new technological revolution and industrial transformation. The two sides should also tap complementary advantages, focus on win-win cooperation and cultivate more growth points in industries such as smart cities, artificial intelligence and big data, so as to build stronger drivers for their economic and social development and inject new vitality into the realization of lasting stability and prosperity in the region.
In his message, Nguyen Xuan Phuc mentioned that the initiative of ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation was proposed by China and widely supported by ASEAN Member States. It echoes the theme of the ASEAN Summit in 2020 - “concerted efforts and active adaptation”, and is in line with the interests of ASEAN and China as global economic revolution and digital transformation are gaining momentum. Relevant industry authorities of both sides should work together to carry out effective cooperation in supporting enterprises to pursue innovation, adapt to the digital business environment, and promote the application of digital economy in various economic sectors.
Mr. Miao Wei, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology, presided over the opening ceremony and delivered a keynote speech. Mr. LIM Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN, Mr. Cao Quoc Hung, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of Viet Nam, together with ministers in charge of digital economy or information and communication of the ASEAN Member States including Dr. Thansamay Kommasith, Chair of ASEAN Digital Ministers' Meeting and Minister of Post and Telecommunications of Lao PDR, Mr. Dato Abdul Mutalib Yusof, Minister of Transport and Info Communications of Brunei, Mr. Vandeth Chea, Minister of Post and Telecommunications of Cambodia, Mr. Johnny G. Plate, Minister of Communication and Information Technology of Indonesia, Mr. Zaidi Zain Abidin, Deputy Minister of Communication and Multimedia of Malaysia, Mr. Thant Sin Maung, Union Minister of Transport and Communications of Myanmar, Mr. Emmanuel Rey Caintic, Assistant Secretary of Department of Information and Communications Technology of Philippines, Mr. S. Iswaran, Minister of Communications and Information of Singapore, Mr. Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Minister of Digital Economy and Society of Thailand and Dr. Phan Tam, Vice Minister of Information and Communication of Viet Nam, attended the opening ceremony and made speeches via teleconference.
Minister Miao Wei stressed in his speech that China, attaching great importance to the development of digital economy, has successfully unleashed the growth potential of digital economy,which would not only invigorate economic and social development, but also help improve the quality of people's life. Miao shared China's practices and experience in applying digital technology in containing the epidemic, resuming work and production as well as ensuring people's livelihood.
Minister Miao Wei put forward a six-point proposal for strengthening digital economy cooperation between ASEAN and China. First, deepen the application of digital technology in epidemic containment and share relevant policies, measures, practices and solutions. Second, strengthen the building of digital infrastructure and enhance cooperation between the two sides in 5G, IOT, IIOT, AI, and other fields. Third, support entrepreneurship, innovation and industrial digitalization, promote digital, networked and smart manufacturing, and jointly maintain the stability of the industrial chain and the supply chain. Fourth, promote the development of smart cities, use cutting-edge technologies such as big data, cloud computing, blockchain, and AI to promote innovation in means, modes and concepts of urban management. Fifth, step up governance of cyberspace and encourage the building of peaceful, secure, open and orderly cyberspace. Sixth, strengthen practical cooperation and capacity-building in cyber security.
ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi pointed out that ASEAN istransitioning toward a digital economy.He said that the digital economy in ASEAN is expected to account for 8.5 percent of GDP in 2025, up from 1.3 percent in 2015. To harness the momentum, ASEAN is formulating a comprehensive strategy for the fourth industrial revolution, which aims to solve problems in industrial governance, economic and social development. Given its high expertise in developing digital infrastructure and building a regulatory framework for the digital economy, China is indeed a valuable partner for ASEAN in promoting the digital economy in the region.
On behalf of the ASEAN Digital Ministers' Meeting mechanism, Lao Minister Thansamay Kommasith congratulated the launching of the ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation. He opined that the COVID-19 epidemic had brought people into an unpredictable situation, but it also presentsnew opportunities for information and communication technology. All countries in the region should seize the opportunity and better cope with new challenges by cooperating with each other and maximize the potential of information and communication technology.
Ministers in charge of digital economy or information and communication of ASEAN Member States shared experience of their own countries in tackling the epidemic, developing digital economy and promoting innovation cooperation. They spoke highly of China’s achievements in digital economy and its positive role in bilateral and regional digital economy cooperation. They also put forward suggestions and initiatives to strengthen cooperation for early realization of digital transformation in the region.
The year 2020 was designated as the ASEAN- China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation at the 22nd ASEAN-China Summit in Bangkok in 2019, which is another important arrangement for the two sides to promote cooperation following the Year of Innovation (2018) and the Year of Media Exchanges (2019).
According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, under the theme of "Combating COVID-19 Through Joint Efforts, Embracing Cooperation Through ICT and Digital Development", this year ASEAN and China will co-host a series of activities, covering smart cities, big data, AI and other fields. By creating more exchange platforms and improving communication mechanisms, the two sides will share experience in digital epidemic prevention and control, digital infrastructure and transformation, and explore flexible and diversified cooperation models to share the dividend of digital economy and benefit all the people in the region.
Mr. Guo Chuanwei, Director of Trade and Investment Division of ASEAN-China Centre, attended the opening ceremony together with representatives of Cyberspace Administration of China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Commerce, National Health Commission and China Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team.(photo source: Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China)