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Internet cooperation benefits countries along the Belt and Road

Editor: zhangrui 丨Xinhua

05-03-2017 06:32 BJT

Full coverage: Belt and Road Forum for Int'l Cooperation

BEIJING, May 2 (Xinhua) -- "The Belt and Road brings us together, and we address challenges hand in hand" -- composed by Vilayphone Vongphachanh from Laos, the song "The Belt and Road" went viral online recently.

One user praised the singer Tuesday on Weibo, China's twitter-like service, "It's great to hear a foreigner's understanding of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the song shows that countries along the Belt and Road are willing to accept a shared destiny."

"News about the initiative is a focus for Chinese people, and I want more people to know about it through the Internet," said Vilayphone, 52, who has been working in China for seven years. "After all, Internet is the best way to connect people."

As a Laotian, Vilayphone thinks that the significance of the initiative is far beyond the China-Laos railway that will connect with the railway system in China.

"The construction work shows one aspect of cross-border connectivity," said Vilayphone. "I've already experienced the convenience brought by Internet cooperation along the Belt and Road countries here in China."

He is used to buying products from other countries on Tmall, an international online shopping platform of China's Internet giant Alibaba. Products from countries along the Belt and Road have become more and more popular in China.

Thanks to the Internet push, more than 100 Thai brands were available on Tmall last year, with year-on-year turnover increasing by 152 percent, according to a report released by Ali Research last week.

Malaysian coffee, black tea grown in Sri Lanka as well as date palms from the United Arab Emirates are all top sellers online.

Since the Belt and Road Initiative was launched in 2013, China has inked many deals with countries along the routes in the field of the Internet, aiming to build a transnational network that connects Asia with Europe and Africa.

For instance, China called for building an "online Silk Road" between China and Arab States in 2015. Under this proposal, China promises to speed up construction of regional Internet facilities and a communication cable network, prioritize the allocation of Internet infrastructure and promote the common use of 4G networks.

Last year, the China-ASEAN Port Logistics Information Center was launched, with a priority of enabling data exchange and information sharing among port cities in China and ASEAN countries.

China and Ethiopia signed a memorandum of understanding for their partnership on a project dubbed the "Africa Information Super Highway" last year, which enabled countries to carry out joint activities in information and communication technology for East Africa.

"The Internet is the key feature of the Belt and Road Initiative in the 21st century, and cooperation in Internet-related services along the routes propels innovation and industrial upgrading," said Wang Yiwei, Director of Institute of International Affairs of Renmin University of China.

On March 1, the Chinese government released the International Strategy of Cooperation on Cyberspace, part of its commitment to assisting developing countries with cyber security capacity building.

Besides the government, enterprises are also taking actions. Alibaba's chairman Jack Ma proposed a "cyber Silk Road" this March, with a plan to establish an e-commerce hub in Malaysia which will cover logistics, cloud-computing and e-finance services and boost trade in the region.

China will hold the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation from May 14 to 15 in Beijing.

"With connectivity the key to the initiative, Internet Plus is expected to bring more significant results and fresh ideas to countries along the Belt and Road." Wang said.

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