The Asia-Europe Meeting High-Level Forum on Digital Connectivity is held in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Monday and Tuesday. Gu Chenxi / For China Daily
Forum to focus on global digital connectivity in the internet age
As the internet and the digital economy lead the charge in global innovative development, gradually changing people's lifestyles around the world, the ongoing Asia-Europe Meeting High-Level Forum on Digital Connectivity aims to address hot topics in the sector.
ASEM was established in 1996 to foster cooperation between the two continents and facilitate international dialogue. The forum, taking place on Monday and Tuesday in Qingdao, Shandong province, is the first event about the digital economy in ASEM's history.
It provides a platform for ASEM's 53 members to exchange ideas, share their experiences and discuss cooperative opportunities related to the digital economy and internet development, said Yin Zonghua, vice-chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, one of the event's co-hosts.
Premier Li Keqiang put the idea of discussing digital interconnectivity on the ASEM agenda last July, a suggestion that was praised and supported by many countries. Later, China announced it would host an interconnectivity forum in Qingdao to deepen the conversation on the topic.
Digital infrastructure construction is the cornerstone of developing new technologies, services and business models, Yin said.
ASEM members' different industries and enterprises have adapted to the internet in vastly divergent ways, he said. The forum's primary mission is to enhance the construction of information networks and to promote communication and cooperation among governments and enterprises in Asia and Europe, he noted.
The forum will discuss how to spur internet-based innovation and support traditional industries' integration of the internet.
The emerging global cross-border e-commerce sector and its expanding market base have made international trade more accessible, providing huge opportunities especially for small and medium-sized businesses to integrate into the global supply chain.
At the forum, participants will discuss cross-border e-commerce payment and settlement, rights protection and commercial cooperation.
Both traditional industrial countries and emerging economies highly value the combination of big data and the manufacturing industry, Yin said.
How to strengthen the integration of new information technology and the manufacturing industry, as well as how to increase Asia-Europe economic development are therefore among the main topics to be discussed at the forum.
Host city Qingdao plans to become a key center of innovation and services, as well as an internationally influential hub for maritime development and advanced manufacturing during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), said Han Shouxin, the deputy secretary-general of the city government.
Qingdao Port has established trade with more than 700 ports throughout 180 countries and regions, with its yearly cargo throughput reaching 500 million metric tons in 2016.
Qingdao's sound information network infrastructure, intelligent manufacturing and other favorable industrial conditions have laid a solid foundation for the city to host the event, Han added.