Digital and telecommunication cooperation between China and Europe has a very promising future, said the ambassador and head of the Chinese Mission to the European Union (EU) on Wednesday.
Yang Yanyi made the remarks at the first anniversary of ChinaEU, a business-led International Association aimed at intensifying business cooperation and investments in the telecom and hi-tech spheres.
Yang said the digital economy has become the most powerful engine to drive China's economic development, and the growth rate of this sector was five times higher than that of the country's GDP last year.
According to a recent study, the Internet could add 0.3 to 1.0 percentage points to China's GDP growth rate from 2013 to 2025.
"The shift toward the digital economy will facilitate China's goal of creating a model of economic growth that is based on productivity, innovation and consumption," Yang told the audience.
Official data showed that China is now the world's largest e-commerce market: online retail sales totalled 3.9 trillion RMB (590 billion U.S. dollars) in 2015, up 33.3 percent from a year earlier.
In the next five years, "we will build a digital China at a faster pace through the implementation of a cyber strategy and further integration of information technology," Yang said, adding that the development of the cyber economy is a strong feature of China's newly released 13th Five Year Plan.
"Inspired by the bright prospect of a digital China, many neighboring countries have taken China as a key partner in their pursuit of a 'digital silk road'," she said.
She stressed that it has been a shared view of many Chinese and European businesses and enterprises alike that there are many areas of potentially lucrative collaboration between China and Europe, but perhaps none as promising as the digital and telecom markets.
Her view was echoed by ChinaEU president Luigi Gambardella, who urged both sides to move toward a more ambitious level of digital cooperation.
"In less than ten years, leading Chinese digital companies will have replaced the current American digital giants in the world and have prominent representation offices in the European quarter. I am ready to bet on it," Gambardella said at the same event.
"Let us, Europeans, not see this as a threat. On the contrary, this is a unique opportunity," he added.
Strategically, China and the EU have agreed to combine their digitization processes and exploit the complementarities of each other's competitive advantages: innovative technology in Europe and a huge market in China.
"Digital transformation is underway in both China and the EU but has a long road ahead. Yet, your event today comforts me that we can overcome our challenges and move forward together," Yang said.