Economist Stephen Green sees growth in China’s digital world, from upcoming innovations to a steady increase in mobile phone usage.
Stephen Green: Online is an extraordinary world.
You’re seeing very fast take up of 4G. If you travel on the train — you know, sometimes I get the metro in Beijing when I’m up there, or in Shanghai — everyone’s on their phone, everyone’s either on WeChat or on Tmall, Alibaba’s platform buying stuff. Parcel deliveries are running at 40, 50 percent year-on-year rates of growth right now. I think Ali is probably responsible for about half of those parcel deliveries. So, you know, the online world is exploding. Penetration rates for mobile still have a long way to go, and that’s going to continue to go.
Obviously, when you have all this growth over here it’s not just all positive. There are some negative things. All the malls that developers have built in the last five, ten years, their, their business models are really suffering, ‘cause it’s much easier to get online, get your parcels delivered at home. So malls in China have a big challenge. We’re probably going to have to see hospitals and clinics moving into those, as well as schools, just to drive, to create some, take up some space.
So there are positives and negatives, but I think fundamentally it’s a very, very positive picture. And some of these firms, 90 percent of what’s going online in China is probably copying and sort of upgrading stuff that’s going on overseas in America and Europe into China, but there’s a small but significant chunk which is expanding which is really innovative, and I think that probably in the next five, ten years is where we really need to focus.
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