In a move that reflects China’s overarching ambitions in the digital arena, Shanghai has inaugurated the International Data Economy Industrial Park. Strategically situated in the Lingang pilot free-trade zone, the park is at the forefront of driving the “safe and structured cross-border movement of international online data.” This announcement was made at the International Data Economy Industry Cooperation Conference, marking a significant stride in the nation’s digital trajectory.
As per the vision set out for the park, by 2025, it aspires to metamorphose into a global industry nexus, housing over 100 premier data corporations. Furthermore, it seeks to achieve a collective output surpassing 100 billion yuan (US$13.6 billion). This endeavor is not just about numbers or economic growth; it represents Shanghai’s resolve to be a pivotal player in high-tier international data collaboration.
The underlying intention of this park is manifold. On one hand, it is poised to be a testing ground for China’s objective of integrating into global trade agreements, notably the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The CPTPP is among the globe’s most substantial free-trade zones in terms of economic throughput, encompassing nations from Australia and Japan to Mexico and New Zealand. Concurrently, the park is projected to bolster the evolution of myriad cutting-edge sectors, such as humanoid robotics and state-of-the-art internet data facilities. The inaugural group of 25 data-centric enterprises has already taken up residence within the park.
Shanghai’s strategic initiative is symptomatic of the city’s broader objective to propel its digital economy, serving as a primary axis of growth. This is consistent with the municipal government’s digital blueprint for 2023-2025, unveiled recently. As part of this forward-thinking strategy, the pre-existing Shanghai Data Exchange is set to evolve into a grander, “national-level data exchange” by 2025. By that time, an estimated 5,000 data products are anticipated to grace the platform.
Zhang Guosheng, a senior official from the Ministry of Commerce, accentuated the centrality of data in the contemporary digital economic landscape during his address at the conference. China’s focus on digital commerce has intensified, especially in light of its integral role in the country’s 14th five-year developmental plan, spanning 2021 to 2025.
Shanghai’s visionary leadership perceives the Lingang New Area as an epicenter for artificial intelligence (AI) innovation, pooling national resources and intellectual capital. One of the primary focuses is to enhance computational capabilities, recognized as a crucial element for AI progression, alongside data and algorithmic logic.
A behemoth investment of 10 billion yuan is earmarked for establishing a “multi-computing power supply system” in this region by 2025. Corroborating this vision, China Telecom, a major telecommunications titan in the country, disclosed plans recently for the construction of an expansive computational center within Lingang, thereby amplifying Shanghai’s AI industry.