Navigating the Digital Economy: Insights from 2023’s Key Events

The digital economy events held in June 2023 were important gatherings that brought together industry leaders, government representatives, and corporate stakeholders to address the ever-evolving landscape of the digital economy in China and its global impact. These events, co-hosted by AmCham China in collaboration with esteemed organizations such as CCID and CAICT, served as platforms for insightful discussions, collaborative initiatives, and the sharing of innovative ideas. With a focus on assisting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their digital transformation journeys and exploring avenues for international cooperation, these gatherings provided a glimpse into the future of the digital economy, highlighting its challenges, opportunities, and the strategies required to thrive in this dynamic environment.

AmCham China delegation at a roundtable discussion with CAICT
Photo courtesy of AmCham China

Roundtable Discussion with CCID

On the morning of June 9, 2023 AmCham China hosted the 2022-2023 Social Impact Initiative – AmCham China and CCID Roundtable Discussion. The focus of the meeting was the challenges and opportunities for Multinational Corporations (MNCs) in assisting China’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with digital transformation. Long Fei, Director of the Institute of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Gong Jian, Director of the Research Office of Policy Planning and Enterprise Innovation of the Institute of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, and five other delegates from CCID attended the meeting. Claire Ma, Vice President of AmCham China, led the chamber’s Government Affairs and Policy team in attending the meeting. Company delegates from Qualcomm, Amazon, Schneider Electric, Emerson Electric, and HP also attended and shared their cases, achievements, and prospects for MNCs’ participation in the digital transformation and business globalization of Chinese SMEs under China’s digital economy strategy.

Director Long Fei introduced the work of CCID in promoting the digital transformation of SMEs through policy and administrative supports, as well as the progress of international cooperation with international organizations such as the UN and other private institutions. AmCham China Vice President Claire Ma mentioned that in 2020, AmCham China launched the Social Impact Program, with one of its main focuses being how to assist the thousands of SMEs in China in recovering from the severe impact of the epidemic.

Our stakeholders agreed that SMEs in China face three major challenges: lack of access to financing, failure to fully leverage digital technologies to accelerate growth, and limited exposure to overseas markets. These problems stem from inadequate institutional measures and supportive policies, as well as the lack of knowledge, capabilities, and resources within companies. The Chamber’s 2022 SII Digital Economy Report recommended the government to create a favorable business environment for SMEs by strengthening policy support. Specifically, it suggested that the government should:

  • Increase investment in digital infrastructure, including 5G base stations, big data research centers, blockchain technology applications, etc., to provide the necessary digital infrastructure for enterprises’ digital transformation.
  • Increase financial support for small and medium-sized enterprises during their critical moments of digital transformation, establish special digital funds, and consider introducing certain preferential measures or tax policy reductions.
  • Strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights and foster enterprises’ enthusiasm for independent innovation in digital technology.
  • Actively cultivate digital talents, support enterprises in key industries to strengthen cooperation with research institutions, carry out targeted personnel training, and enhance the digital literacy of workers.
  • Provide vigorous support for the development of cross-border e-commerce, including offering greater support in the construction of cross-border logistics hubs, digital technology, talent introduction, and other aspects.

Company delegates then exchanged ideas with CCID on issues such as technology, financing, employment, cross-border transactions, and localization services for Chinese SMEs based on their own experiences and the current situation of different industries.

AmCham China and CAICT Roundtable Event

On June 21, 2023 AmCham China and CAICT co-hosted the 2022-2023 Social Impact Initiative – AmCham China and CAICT Roundtable Discussion at CAICT. AmCham China President Michael Hart introduced the AmCham China 2023 White Paper, China Business Climate Survey Report, flash survey results, DC Outreach results, briefed on ICT industry challenges and digital transformation, and discussed potential areas of collaboration between the US and China. Vice President Zhiqin Wang, Director of International Cooperation Rui Liu, and Director of International Governance Research, Research Institute of Policy and Economy Lina Shi, and relevant staff from CAICT attended the meeting. AmCham China President Michael Hart, Vice President Claire Ma, and delegates from 12 companies attended the meeting.

President Michael Hart stressed that while the Chinese market today is quite challenging for US companies, its long-term strategic importance for US companies remains clear. As the White Paper intends to provide constructive and specific recommendations for various key industries, Hart highlighted a few for the ICT industry.

President Michael Hart then introduced the work around supporting SMEs undergoing digital transformation and expanding overseas markets under our Social Impact Initiative. US tech companies participating in the digital economy track include Amazon, Dell, Meta, and Google. The Chamber truly appreciates the support from Chinese government departments, think tanks, and other partners who have supported this initiative. We welcome CAICT to participate in our working sessions and other events to share expertise and insights.

CAICT representatives introduced the implications and framework of China’s digital economy development, digitization of services and industry, and China’s telecom market opening policy. Lina Shi, Director of International Governance Research, Research Institute of Policy and Economy, mentioned that the current scale of China’s value-added telecom market continues to grow rapidly, and the revenue of Internet companies is returning to a positive growth track. China will continue to steadily promote the opening of the telecom market and optimize the business environment for foreign investment, and gradually expand opening by region and phase based on industrial, regulatory, and security conditions.

Subsequently, the two sides exchanged views on topics such as digital transformation between China and the US, product digitization, cloud penetration, green development of the industrial chain, and prospects for cooperation between the public and private sectors.

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This article is from the AmCham China Quarterly Magazine (Issue 3, 2023). To access the entire publication for free, sign up on our member portal here.