China speeds up construction of “new infrastructure”

By Chen Zhenkai, People’s Daily Overseas Edition
“New infrastructure” recently became a buzzword in China after the country urged faster construction of such facilities as 5G and data centers at a meeting held by the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on March 4.
New infrastructure typically includes 5G, extra-high-voltage power transmission, inter-city rail transit, vehicle charging facilities, big data centers, artificial intelligence (AI), industrial internet, and internet of things (IoT) – areas where China sees ample space of development.
It is different from the traditionally defined infrastructure such as railway, roads, airports and bridges, where China enjoys sound development despite minor weaknesses.
The concept of new infrastructure was raised at the Central Economic Work Conference in 2018, and it has become a clear direction for China’s economic development since last year. Analysts believe that this sector is of huge significance for stabilizing investment, achieving steady growth and realizing high-quality economic development.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on multiple occasions that the country will speed up 5G commercialization, make and optimize plans for 5G construction, and expand deployment of base stations.
Chen Zhaoxiong, vice minister of MIIT noted the 5G technology plays a vital role in making the economy and society digitalized, networked and intelligent. It contributes to not only epidemic control and work resumption, but also promoting investment, consumption and economic upgrading and fostering new driving forces of economic growth, he added.
The construction of 5G network is currently being accelerated nationwide. Central province Henan vowed to cover all of its urban areas in county-level regions and above with 5G network this year and initiate massive commercialization of the technology, while Gansu in northwest China said it would make 5G available in urban areas of basically all prefecture-level cities in 2020. Chongqing municipality also proposed to launch an action plan for integrated 5G application and build 30,000 base stations this year.
On March 7, Chongqing Liang Jiang New Area held a “cloud signing” of new infrastructure projects using the 5G technology, inking contracts totaling 6.28 billion yuan ($890 million).
As of the end of last month, 80 percent of China’s 5G construction stayed on schedule.
Statistics indicated that China Mobile, one of the largest three telecommunication companies in China, had built over 80,000 base stations across the country and locked up 10 million 5G users by the end of last month. The company aims to raise the number of base stations to 300,000 this year and is striving to cover all prefecture-level cities and above with its 5G network.
Its rivals China Telecom and China Unicom said they will jointly build 100,000 5G base stations in 47 prefectures and cities in the first half of this year.
The China Academy of Information and Communications Technology predicted that a total of 1.2 trillion yuan will have beeninvested in 5G construction in the country by 2025, driving 3.5 trillion yuan of investment on the industrial chain and other relevant industries.
The construction of new infrastructure is also bringing closer the cooperation between government and enterprises.
Since the onset of the novel coronavirus epidemic, 28 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have established digital epidemic prevention systems by cooperating with Alibaba Cloud, a business unit of Alibaba Group offering global cloud computing services, and over 200 cities have launched color-coded QR system to identify citizens’ health conditions. Such digital technology has greatly improved the efficiency of epidemic prevention.
Alibaba Cloud also enabled 180 million students and 200 million employees across the country to study and work from home, maintaining the normal operation of economy and society.
“Alibaba Cloud will make full efforts to build new infrastructure of digital economy, and help government and enterprises construct future-oriented new infrastructure, said Zhang Jianfeng, President of Alibaba Cloud.
Cloud computing, smart data, intelligent internet and mobile collaboration played a huge part in the battle against the novel coronavirus, where people found that a high-efficiency logistics system is as important as basic urban infrastructure such as water, power and gas supply.
During the battle against the novel coronavirus, JD Logistics under e-commerce giant guaranteed reasonable planning and orderly transportation of emergency and livelihood supplies, and its on-time delivery has greatly assured the consumers amid the epidemic.

An employee of Zhaojun Museum in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region introduces the museum over a 5G livestream on March 7. Photo by Ding Genhou (People’s Daily Online)

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