Translation: Xi Jinping’s Speech to the Politburo Study Session on the Digital Economy – Oct. 2021

Xi called for strong efforts toward development and national independence in digital technologies


January 28, 2022

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January 28, 2022

On October 18, 2021, Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke to a Politburo study session on the digital economy. An excerpt of the speech was published January 15, 2022, in the Communist Party ideology journal Qiushi, which described the text as the "main part" of Xi's October speech. A full translation of the Qiushi text follows.


Archived copy:


Unceasingly Make Our Country's Digital Economy Stronger, Better, and Bigger

By Xi Jinping

In recent years, innovation in the Internet, big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and other such technologies has quickened, merging into all areas and all processes of economic and social development. All countries are competing to formulate digital economy development strategies and roll out encouraging policies; the development of the digital economy is rapid, it radiates broadly, and the depth of its influence is unprecedented. It is becoming a critical force in reorganizing global factor resources, reshaping global economic structures, and changing global competition structures.

For a long time, I have attached great importance to developing digital technology and the digital economy. When I was working in Fujian in 2000, I put forward building a “digital Fujian,” and when I was working in Zhejiang in 2003, I put forward building a “digital Zhejiang.” Since the 18th Party Congress, I have repeatedly stressed the necessity of developing the digital economy. At the 36th collective study session of the 18th Politburo in 2016, I emphasized the necessity of making the digital economy big and strong, and expanding new spaces for economic development; at the G20 Leaders' Summit in Hangzhou the same year, I put forward for the first time the proposal to develop the digital economy, gaining universal recognition from leaders and businesspeople from all countries; in 2017, at the 2nd collective study session of the 19th Politburo, I emphasized the necessity of building a digital China, building a digital economy with data as a critical factor, and promoting the integrated development of the real economy and the digital economy; at the Central Economic Work Conference of 2018, I emphasized the necessity of accelerating the building of new infrastructure such as 5G, artificial intelligence, the industrial Internet, etc.; in 2021, in my congratulatory message to the World Internet Conference Wuzhen Summit, I pointed out the necessity of inciting dynamism in the digital economy, strengthening the efficacy of digital government, optimizing the digital social environment, building digital cooperation structures, building digital security protections, and letting digital civilization benefit the peoples of all countries.

Since the 18th Party Congress, the Party Center has attached a high degree of importance to developing the digital economy and has elevated doing so to the level of national strategy. The 5th Plenum of the 18th Party Congress proposed implementation of the cyber superpower [or "cyber great power" –Ed.] strategy and the national big data strategy; expanding space for the online economy; stimulating the integrated development of the Internet, economy, and society; and supporting all kinds of Internet-based innovation. The 19th Party Congress proposed promoting the profound integration of the Internet, big data, artificial intelligence, and the real economy, and building a digital China and a smart society. The 5th Plenum of the 19th Party Congress proposed developing the digital economy, enhancing digital industrialization and industrial digitization, promoting the profound integration of the digital economy and the real economy, and forging digital industry clusters with international competitiveness. We have rolled out the "Cyber Superpower Strategy Implementation Plan" and the "Strategic Outline for Digital Economy Development," both of which promote the development of the digital economy from the national level. In these past few years, the development of our country's digital economy has been relatively fast, and its achievements have been notable. On the basis of data from the 2021 Global Digital Economy Conference, our country's digital economy has been ranked second in the world multiple years in a row. Especially since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, digital technologies and the digital economy have played important roles in facilitating resistance against the pandemic and recovery in both production and life.

At the same time, we must see that compared to the digital economy of the world's major countries and superpowers [or "great powers" –Ed.], our country's digital economy is big but not strong, fast but not superior. We must also see that our country's digital economy has displayed several unhealthy and unregulated symptoms and trends in its rapid development; these problems not only influence the healthy development of the digital economy, but also violate laws and regulations; they constitute threats against the country's economic and financial security, and must be firmly corrected and dealt with.

In the overall judgment, developing the digital economy has great significance; it is a strategic choice to grasp a new round of scientific and technological revolutions and a new opportunity for industrial reform. First, the healthy development of the digital economy is conducive to promoting the building of new development structures. An important task in building new economic structures is strengthening economic development energies and opening up economic cycles. Digital technologies and the digital economy may: promote the rapid circulation of all kinds of resources and factors and the accelerated integration of all kinds of market subjects; help market subjects rebuild organizational models; realize cross-boundary development; break through constraints of time and space; extend industry chains; and open up domestic and foreign economic circulations. Second, the healthy development of the digital economy is conducive to the promotion of building a modernized economic system. Data has become a new type of production factor, and has a major influence on the transformation of traditional protection methods. The digital economy is highly innovative, strongly permeable, and has broad reach; it is not only a new economic growth point, but also a supporting point for transforming and upgrading traditional industries; and it may become an important driver of building modernized economic systems. Third, the healthy development of the digital economy benefits promoting the building of new advantages in national competition. In the current era, digital technologies and the digital economy offer a decisive opportunity for global scientific and technological revolutions and industrial transformation; they are the focus for a new round of international competition; and we must seize the moment as well as the commanding heights of future development.

Looking toward the future, we must: stand at the heights of comprehensively managing the entire strategic picture of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the big picture of global changes unseen in a century; comprehensively manage both the domestic and international big pictures; securely develop the two major matters; give full expression to the advantages of mass data and rich application settings; stimulate the profound integration of the digital economy and the real economy; enable the transformation and upgrade of traditional industries; foster new industries and new business models; and unceasingly make our country's digital economy stronger, better, and bigger.

First, strengthen key advances in critical and core technologies. We must: grab the "bull by the horns" in indigenous innovation in critical and core technologies; bring into play the advantages of our country's socialist system, the advantages of novel systems for the entire country, and the advantages of super-scale markets; raise fundamental digital technology research and development capabilities; fight hard in the battle to develop critical and core technologies; realize high-level self-reliance and self-strengthening as soon as possible; and closely grasp digital economic autonomy in our own hands.

Second, accelerate the building of new infrastructure. We must strengthen strategic arrangements to accelerate the construction of high-speed and broad-coverage smart and comprehensive digital information infrastructure with 5G networks, nationwide integrated data center systems and the national industrial Internet as starting points that connect the aerial and the terrestrial, integrate the cloud and networks, are intelligent and agile, green and low-carbon, secure controllable, and intelligent, and connect the "main arteries" of information for economic and social development. We must completely advance industrialized and scaled-up applications; foster large-scale software enterprises with international competitiveness; focus on making breakthroughs in critical software; promote the growth and strengthening of the software industry; and enhance critical software technology innovation and supply capabilities.

Third, promote the integrated development of the digital economy and the real economy. We must: grasp a digitized, networked, and intelligentized direction, and promote the digitization of industries such as manufacturing, the services sector, and agriculture; use the Internet and new technologies to conduct a comprehensive and complete-chain transformation of traditional industries; raise the productivity of all factors; and bring into play the role of digital technologies in expanding, growing, and redoubling economic development. We must promote the profound convergence of the Internet, big data, and artificial intelligence with industry, and accelerate the fostering of a batch of "specialized, excellent, special, and new" industries and individual champion enterprises in the manufacturing sector. Of course, we must be earnest, down-to-earth, and tailored to the needs of enterprise; we cannot digitize for the sake of digitization.

Fourth, advance digital industry development in priority areas. We must concentrate on the strategic front lines and high ground; based on major technological breakthroughs and major development needs; strengthen competitiveness in industrial chains and links; perfect supply chain systems in priority industries; and accelerate product and service iteration. We must concentrate on priority areas such as integrated circuits, new display forms, telecommunications equipment, and smart hardware; accelerate the forging of strengths, remedy shortcomings, foster a batch of large enterprises with international competitiveness and ecosystem-leading enterprises with industry chain control power; and build indigenous [or independent –Ed.] and controllable industrial ecosystems. We must stimulate clustered development and forge world-class digital industry clusters.

Fifth, regulate digital economy development. To advance the healthy development of the digital economy, we must: continue to promote grasping development in one hand and management and regulation in the other, and both hands must be strong; regulate amidst development; and develop amidst regulation. We must complete market access structures, fair competition inspection structures, and fair competition oversight structures; build comprehensive, multi-level, and three-dimensional oversight systems; realize oversight of entire chains and entire areas before, during, and after events; fill gaps in oversight; and raise oversight efficacy. We must correct and standardize behavior and methods in the process of development that harm the interests of the masses and impede fair competition; prevent the expansion of platform monopolies and the disorderly expansion of capital; and investigate and prosecute monopolistic and unfair competitive behavior according to the law. We must protect the lawful interests of platform employees and consumers. We must strengthen tax oversight and tax inspections.

Sixth, perfect digital economy governance systems. We must complete legal, regulatory, and policy structures; perfect systems and structures; and raise the modernization levels of our country's digital economy governance system and governance capabilities. We must perfect the duties and responsibilities of competent departments and oversight departments; divide work and collaborate; and mutually coordinate. We must improve and elevate oversight technologies and methods, and make oversight and governance penetrate the entire process of innovation, production, operation, and investment. We must clarify the dominant responsibilities and duties of platform enterprises, and build sectoral self-disciplinary mechanisms. We must launch social supervision, media supervision, and public supervision, creating joint supervision forces. We must perfect national security structures and systems; focus on strengthening security risk, early warning, prevention and control mechanisms, and capacity building in the digital economy; and ensure that core technologies, important industries, critical infrastructure, strategic resources, major science and technology, leading enterprises, etc., are secure and controllable. We must strengthen theoretical research into the development of the digital economy.

Seventh, vigorously participate in international cooperation on the digital economy. We must observe closely, act with initiative, and actively participate in the digital economy-themed negotiations of international organizations; initiate multilateral digital economy governance cooperation; uphold and perfect digital economy governance mechanisms; propose Chinese plans in a timely manner; and assert China's voice.

The digital economy affects the big picture of national development. We must combine our country's development needs and potential with completing top-level design for the development of China’s digital economy and construction of structures and mechanisms. We must strengthen trend research and analysis, grasp opportunities, and gain the initiative. Leading cadres at all levels must raise the quality of their digital economy thinking capabilities and specializations; strengthen their skills in digital economy development; strengthen their awareness of security; and promote the digital economy to serve and integrate into the new development structure even better. We must raise the digital accomplishments and skills of the entire population and the entire society, and lay a firm social basis for the development of our country's digital economy.

This is the main part of General Secretary Xi Jinping's speech at the 34th collective study session of the 19th Politburo on 18 October 2021.

Chinese-language original