Home Blog

China’s 3rd Digital Summit wraps up in Fuzhou


By Yan Ke, Zhong Ziwei, Shao Yuzi, People’s Daily

The 3rd Digital China Summit concluded in Fuzhou, capital of east China’s Fujian province, on October 14.

Over 8,000 participants attended the main forum and sub-forums of the summit and more than 200 companies exhibited their latest digital technologies and results.

A total of 426 projects in the digital sector involving an investment of 331.6 billion yuan (about $49.5 billion) were signed at this year’s Digital China Summit.

The COVID-19 epidemic has underlined the necessity and urgency of digital transformation.

The application of big data and artificial intelligence (AI) has greatly improved China’s capacity for prediction, diagnosis and treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Zhong Nanshan, academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering as well as recipient of China’s Medal of the Republic, via video link during the summit.

“At the very beginning of the outbreak, we learnt about the incubation period and clinical features of the disease based on the big data on more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients across the country, which played an important role in the early diagnosis and identification of the epidemic,” Zhong noted.

During the epidemic, we called Chinese families and informed them about epidemic prevention and control with the help of AI technology,” said Liu Qingfeng, chairman of iFLYTEK Co. Ltd., a Chinese information technology company.

The technology has enabled the company to inform the first one million families within six hours, according to Liu, who disclosed that the technology has served 59 million person-times of people across the country.

How should China continue stimulating the vitality of digital technologies in the future?

Huawei’s rotating chairman Xu Zhijun spoke highly of China’s efforts to speed up the construction of new infrastructure.

In the short term, new infrastructure can help stabilize the economy and ensure steady growth; in the long run, new infrastructure can stimulate more new demands, create more new forms of businesses, and release more driving forces and potential in promoting the upgrading of economy, laying a solid foundation for digital transformation in various industries and the high-quality development of different cities, he explained.

Robin Li, chairman and CEO of Baidu, believes that smart economy will be the new label on China’s digital economy in the next 10 years, as all sectors, industries and fields will be developing toward intelligentization.

In the first half of this year, China’s online retail sales increased by 7.3 percent year on year, according to Xi Dan, senior vice president at Tencent, who pointed out that digitalization in the entire consumer side is still accelerating.

Xi talked about the new changes brought about by digital economy to the consumer side, among which digital consumption’s expanding into new markets in lower-tier cities and rural areas represents both a new trend and new vitality of the economy.

Farmers in remote areas began to sell agricultural and sideline products through the Internet and shops in small cities are rapidly recovering with the help of digital platforms, Xi noted.

During the recent combined National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, the total WeChat payment transaction volume in third-tier cities and below rose by 50 percent, he added.

The achievement expo of the 3rd Digital China Summit, which demonstrates the digital life in the future, had been very popular among visitors since its opening.

As an important part of the summit, the achievement expo covered an area of 56,000 square meters and gathered 257 enterprises and government departments at home and abroad.

The achievement expo included seven major theme zones featuring such topics as the role of digital technologies in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, digital economy, and digital society, as well as three sections for the release of relevant achievements.

The expo has comprehensively shown China’s achievements in the digitalization, internetization and intelligentization in various sectors during the country’s economic and social development.

Over 50 percent of the new technologies and products released at the expo were introduced to the public for the first time.

The benefits of digitalization are mirrored in the smarter lifestyle of people, such as intelligent garbage classification and targeted power grid services.

A technology company in Fuzhou introduced a smart waste sorting bin at the expo. The dustbin can automatically open after the users have their faces scanned by the device or scan the QR code on the dustbin.

Thanks to its intelligent system, users can know the weight of their waste, track the recycling process of recyclable waste, and get detailed information about the recycling network system.

With the help of new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI, staff workers at the State Grid Fujian Electric Power Co., Ltd. could quickly locate the addresses of clients with electricity demands through a power supply capacity visualization platform and promptly make a power supply plan for these clients based on big data-driven maps.

Increasing roles of digital technologies in the development of traditional industries have fostered new strengths in various fields.

“Through a smart agricultural IoT platform, we can now collect and input data about tea production throughout the whole process from plucking to drying tea leaves,” said a worker with Fujian Chunlun Tea group Co., Ltd. at the expo.

The Fuzhou Strait International Conference & Exhibition Center, main venue of the 3rd Digital China Summit, is fully covered by 5G signals and supports a batch of smart application scenarios such as facial recognition payment, subway facial recognition, and smart parking, according to an executive of the expo during the summit, adding that nearly 100,000 participants visited the main venue during the summit.

With the establishment of the summit’s first online exhibition platform this year, people can visit the grand occasion online and offline all year round, said the executive.

AfDB approves US$50.7m budget support for Tanzania Covid-19 response


The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (ADF) has approved a loan of UA 36 million ($50.7 million) to Tanzania, to finance the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The loan, from the African Development Bank Group’s COVID-19 Response Facility (CRF), will support the Government of Tanzania’s $109 million national COVID-19 response plan, which is jointly supported by the country’s other development partners. The plan is aimed at building economic resilience, while mitigating the socio-economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on local businesses, vulnerable households and the country’s health system.

The pandemic has put increased pressure on Tanzania’s health facilities, social protection systems and has dampened the country’s projected growth of over 6.2% – the average over the last five years, and which had made it the one of the best performers in Eastern Africa. Growth is now projected to decline from the pre-COVID projections of 6.4% to between 3.6% and 2.6%.

Commenting on the operation, Nnenna Nwabufo, the Acting Director-General of the Bank’s East Africa regional office, said it was part of a larger, more comprehensive support package for the Bank’s regional member countries, including Tanzania.

“The evolution of COVID-19 and changing containment measures remain dynamic and unpredictable; the medium and longer-term impacts of the crisis are yet to be fully understood. The African Development Bank Group is stepping up its coordination with governments, as well as with other development partners to adapt and strengthen its monitoring and response to the pandemic,” Nwabufo said.

Distributed by APO Group 

Independent auditors, management raise fears about NNPC financial bouyancy



Independent auditors and management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, have raised doubts over the ability of the corporation to continue as a going concern, following rising losses and negative capital as a result of excess of liabilities over its assets as stated in its recently published 2019 Audited Financial Statement. In the financial statement obtained weekend, auditors of the national oil firm disclosed that material uncertainty exists that cast significant doubts on the ability of the NNPC to escape bankruptcy.
According to Investopedia, Going concern is an accounting term for a company that has the resources needed to continue operating indefinitely until it provides evidence to the contrary. “This term also refers to a company’s ability to make enough money to stay afloat or to avoid bankruptcy. If a business is not a going concern, it means it has gone bankrupt and its assets were liquidated.” It explained. The NNPC auditors comprise international auditing and financial advisory firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, as well as indigenous accounting firms, SIAO Partners and Muhtari Dangana & Co. The auditors gave an unmodified opinion and drew attention to the fact that the NNPC Group and Corporation recorded net losses of N1.8 billion and N107.8 billion respectively in 2019; compared to N803.1 billion and N254 billion in 2018, respectively, while its current liabilities exceed its current assets by N4.4 trillion and N1.1 trillion for the Group and Corporation respectively, compared to N3.3 trillion and N968.7 billion in 2018, respectively. Specifically, NNPC Group and Corporation’s current assets, according to the financial statement, stood at N5.3 trillion and N4.5 trillion in 2019, while total current liabilities stood at N9.7 trillion and N5.6 trillion respectively. ALSO READ: NNPC cuts loss by 99.7% – Report In 2018, NNPC  Group and Corporation’s total current assets stood at N5.4 trillion and N4.8 trillion respectively, while total current liabilities stood at N8.7 trillion and N5.7 trillion respectively.
Experts clarify that auditors give an ‘unmodified opinion’ if the financial statements present true and fair view, while in all other circumstances, the auditor gives a modified opinion. ”If all the information in the financial statement is materially correct, the opinion of the auditors would be unmodified opinion, while on the contrary, if there are the chances that the information in the financial statement are having some material errors, the auditors gives a modified opinion. Accumulated losses Furthermore, in the financial statement, the management of the national oil firm, revealed that the NNPC Group and Corporation had sustained recurring losses over the years, which had culminated into accumulated losses of approximately N1.5 trillion and N474 billion, compared to N1.6 trillion and N490.7 billion for the Group and Corporation in 2018, respectively. The management of the NNPC said: “The Group and Corporation both continue to incur losses. These events or conditions indicate that a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the Group and Corporation’s ability to continue to as a going concern, and therefore, may be unable to realize its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business.

CNN says China’s economy is the envy of the world


China’s economy expanded by 4.9% in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the previous year, according to government data published Monday, showing the rest of the world what’s possible when Covid-19 is brought under control.

The pace of growth was a tad slower than economists had expected. But there were plenty of signs of strength, with the services and construction sectors performing especially well.

China’s economy has now recovered from its historically bad first quarter, when the coronavirus forced the country to shut down. GDP grew a cumulative 0.7% through the first nine months of 2020, the data show.

“China’s economy continued its rapid rebound last quarter, with the recovery broadening out and becoming less reliant on investment-led stimulus,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist for Capital Economics.

Growth of less than 5% would normally be a cause for real concern in China, which is accustomed to much quicker expansion. But it’s pretty good considering the circumstances, and even more remarkable when compared to the extremely fragile recoveries underway in most other big economies.

The big picture: The International Monetary Fund expects China’s economy to expand by 1.9% in 2020. That compares to contractions of 5.8% in the United States and 8.3% in the 19 countries that use the euro. 

Benefits of control: The way Beijing handled the initial outbreak of coronavirus late last year has been criticized by some Western politicians. But China’s stringent lockdown and population tracking policies helped bring the virus under control within its borders. The country also set aside hundreds of billions of dollars for major infrastructure projects to fuel economic growth. The central bank has done its part, too.

The blueprint for controlling the virus has proved difficult for other countries to replicate, especially in places where leaders do not wield the same level of control over their populations as Beijing.

Europe and the United States are now facing another surge of coronavirus cases. Paris has imposed an overnight curfew. In London, people from different households are banned from meeting indoors. The United States is averaging more than 55,000 new cases a day — up more than 60% since a mid-September dip, and pretty much every state is trending the wrong direction.

What’s next: The United States is probably not headed for a national lockdown anytime soon, but its economy will remain hamstrung until there’s a dramatic reduction in the number of coronavirus cases. 

China, meanwhile, will continue to power ahead. Economic data for the month of September indicated the country’s recovery is gaining even more strength. Industrial production and retail sales figures were particularly robust.

Photo of a park in Shenzhen taken in June 2018 by ACE, the city where China flagged off second phase of economic reforms and opening up last week.

“We think growth will continue to pick-up in the near-term,” said Evans-Pritchard. “Fiscal policy is set to remain supportive until at least the start of next year, which should keep activity in industry and construction strong. Meanwhile, tightening labour market conditions and improving consumer confidence mean that the recovery in consumption and services activity probably has further to run.”

Looking even further ahead: The International Monetary Fund predicts that China’s economy will grow by 8.2% in 2021, a much faster pace than the United States or the eurozone. 

Alibaba spots an opportunity

Alibaba (BABA) has taken a controlling stake in one of China’s leading supermarket chains as it tries to fend off rival JD.com in the fast growing online grocery industry, my colleague Sherisse Pham reports. 

Alibaba is spending 28 billion Hong Kong dollars ($3.6 billion) to up its stake in Sun Art Retail Group from 36% to 72%, the company said in a statement Monday. Alibaba will then make a general offer to shareholders to buy out the rest of the the retail company.

The news sent shares in Sun Art up nearly 20% in Hong Kong. Alibaba’s Hong Kong listed shares rose about 1%.

Alibaba is in a fierce battle with JD.com for China’s online food market. The e-commerce giants are both using a mixture of physical supermarkets and online platforms to win shoppers.

The play: The Sun Art deals signals that Alibaba is pushing for the “accelerated digitization” of Chinese consumers post-pandemic, according to Jefferies analyst Thomas Chong. Sun Art operates nearly 500 hypermarkets and supermarkets across China.

Alibaba “has been highlighting digitization as the greatest opportunity to change how people live and work,” and seeking “opportunities in traditional retail” by solving problems such as scalability and sustainability, said Chong. 

What’s next: Ant Group, a crown jewel of Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma’s empire, is preparing to go public in what could be the biggest IPO in history. 

Tourism revived at the Hunan Glass bridge and all over China as economy booms again

Ant Group is one of the biggest technology firms in the world and the biggest online payments platform in China. The app has established its presence in every aspect of financial life in China, from investment accounts and micro savings products to insurance, credit scores and even dating profiles.

The company has secured a key approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission for its listing in Hong Kong, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The IPO is expected to include a listing in Shanghai.

US debt hasn’t been this high since World War II

The amount of money that the United States owes investors has hit record levels in more than a few ways, my colleague Jeanne Sahadi reports. 

Both the annual deficit and total debt accumulated over the years has topped levels not seen since World War II.

Last week, the US Treasury reported that for fiscal year 2020, which ended September 30, the US deficit hit $3.13 trillion. As a share of the economy, the 2020 deficit is more than triple what the annual deficit was in 2019.

Having topped $21 trillion, the country’s total debt owed to investors is now estimated to have outpaced the size of the economy, coming in at nearly 102% of GDP, according to calculations from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Debt hasn’t been that high since 1946 when it hit 106% of GDP.

Extraordinary times: With millions of Americans still out of work and struggling to get by as a result, the country’s burgeoning debt is understandably no one’s top concern at the moment. Even deficit hawks are urging a dysfunctional Washington and a chaotic White House to approve another round of badly needed stimulus to the tune of trillions of dollars.

Big picture: The problem with such high debt levels going forward is that they will increasingly constrain what the government can do to meet the country’s needs.

“There is no set tipping point at which a fiscal crisis becomes likely or imminent, nor is there an identifiable point at which interest costs as a percentage of GDP become unsustainable,” Congressional Budget Office director Phillip Swagel said last month. “But as the debt grows, the risks become greater.”


Bank of China’s new cloud platform boosts smart financial services via full online transaction


Bank of China has completed the largest-scale deployment of a distributed cloud platform in the finance industry. Its cloud platform greatly outperforms traditional data centers by improving hardware resource usage by over 2.5 times and shortening the application rollout time by more than five times through elastic resource scaling and full-process simplification.

“1234” digital development

Founded in 1912, Bank of China (BOC) is a large state-owned commercial bank managed by China’s Ministry of Finance that has become one of world’s most important banks. As one of the four major banks in China, it’s also one of 29 “Systemically Important Financial Institutions in the world.” With a Tier-1 capital of US$230 billion, BOC ranked 44th on the Fortune Global 500 list in 2019, and fourth on the Top 1000 World Banks list in 2018 by the global financial intelligence publication The Banker.

In 2018, BOC devised a new development strategy, which will be led by technology and driven by innovation; BOC will transform to build a world-class bank in the new era, with technology-driven digital development at its core. This strategy marked the start of a new chapter for BOC’s digital transformation.

BOC’s digital transformation will be based on its “1234” guideline. This means it will center on one “digital transformation” strategy; will build two architectures (enterprise-level service and technical); will create three digital platforms: cloud computing, big data, and AI platforms; and focus on four fields: service innovation and development, business and technology integration, technical capabilities, and transformation of scientific and technological mechanisms.

Cloud platform eliminates traditional centralized architecture bottleneck

The adoption of centralized architectures by banks in China dates back to the 1960s. In the early stage of informatization, BOC — like other banks in China — opted for centralized development, to implement intensive management and advanced operations. After four decades, BOC has established a complete centralized architecture information system, which is quite mature in terms of its technical system, technical services, and ecosystem construction.

With the rapid development of Internet finance and the rising national requirements for independent core capabilities, the centralized architecture no longer meets the application requirements of emerging services such as the Internet services, data analysis, and channel access.

Risk concentration: With a centralized architecture, if an exception occurs, the entire system may fail, causing a global system fault.

Difficult capacity expansion: With a centralized architecture, the overall system capability can be increased only by improving the device configuration. The capacity expansion cost is high, and the operations are inconvenient. Meanwhile, the capacity expansion capability of the hardware is limited, which is insufficient given the rapid evolution of products and technologies.

High costs: Most software and hardware devices of the centralized architecture are provided by foreign vendors that monopolize the market. In these circumstances, banks have a weak price bargaining position and inevitably end up paying high prices for the equipment. Compounding the problem, they also can’t control the key technologies involved.

In this context, BOC decided to give equal priority to centralized and distributed architectures. In 2017, BOC released its construction plan for a distributed cloud platform, planning to build ultra-large cloud data centers in Xi’an, Hefei, and Inner Mongolia.

Construction of distributed cloud platform

An ideal cloud platform must be devised before platform construction. The key lies in the services and the requirements of the frontline Operations and Maintenance (O&M) team. These requirements include unified back-end management of computing, storage, and network resource pools to implement flexible resource scheduling.

Meanwhile, the resource pool scale must be able to meet large-scale application deployment needs. The cloud platform should also support cross-DC management and dual-active deployment. Automated installation and one-click application deployment are also priorities, as well as flexible resource scaling of application systems based on service loads. Ideally, a cloud platform will lead to few changes to the existing O&M system and allow for full process standardization.

The solution design must also take into account the reliability and availability requirements of financial services, as well as data security and regulatory compliance requirements.

After BOC’s design prerequisites and service requirements were specified, the design solution was created. BOC’s cloud platform in Xi’an consists of multiple OpenStack zones, including the production intranet zone, production Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), service assurance intranet zone, service assurance DMZ, and the O&M zone. The OpenStack zones carry different types of services with different requirements.

Production zone: Consists of the intranet zone and DMZ. The intranet zone is the most important of all zones, which is used for core service computing and core data storage. This zone doesn’t directly communicate with external data to ensure system stability and data confidentiality. Meanwhile, the production DMZ is used for external information communication and serves as the buffer zone between the production intranet and external networks.

Service assurance zone: Consists of the intranet zone and DMZ. The two zones serve the same functions as the production zone, but the service assurance zone is responsible for application development, User Acceptance Test (UAT), and pressure test.

With this architecture, the production zone and service assurance zone are physically isolated, to ensure data security and that the development environment is the same as the actual application environment. Within the different zones, the logical isolation mode is used to ensure information exchange and fast application deployment. An independent O&M zone is also established, to effectively monitor the entire system and properly schedule resources.

The construction of BOC’s Xi’an cloud platform highlighted the following points:

High Availability (HA): The cloud platform HA is classified into regional and local. For regional HA, the cloud platform allows applications to be deployed in two remote Data Centers (DCs) at the same time and supports unidirectional and bidirectional data replication between the two DCs, implementing dual-active deployment of distributed applications in the two DCs. The equipment room in Hefei and the two equipment rooms in Inner Mongolia will implement mutual disaster recovery and backup to ensure high service reliability. Local HA is realized by deploying multiple Availability Zones (AZs) in an OpenStack region. When one AZ is faulty, the others take over to ensure service continuity and VM availability.

Large scale: To achieve large-scale deployment, the cloud platform must support large-scale deployment of Physical Machines (PMs) and Virtual Machines (VMs), meeting the deployment requirements of high-concurrency and high-performance services. The cloud platform supports flexible scheduling of physical resources in an OpenStack region to meet resource requirements during peak hours. The cloud platform supports smooth capacity expansion of resource pools, allowing for new service rollout and migration of traditional services in the future. Finally, the cloud platform supports the scheduling of drill resource pools to cope with emergencies that require large-scale resource expansion.

Standardization: Standardization is a prerequisite for automated O&M. The standardization of the cloud platform goes through the entire process of construction, including hardware configuration standardization; software architecture standardization; hardware resource pool construction, capacity expansion, return standardization; VM resource application, approval, provisioning standardization; and end user-oriented service catalog standardization. In the standard mode, the cloud platform construction, management, O&M, and application are performed based on the best practices and specifications, greatly reducing management difficulties and improving O&M efficiency.

Servitization: Financial cloud users are separated from cloud builders and maintainers, providing self-service for application O&M personnel and implementing one-click deployment of application systems. O&M personnel can orchestrate each step in the process through dragging, which makes the entire process clearer and greatly improves the orchestration efficiency. The cloud platform is more automated and convenient, so that O&M personnel can focus on cloud construction and O&M instead of application rollout.

Smart finance starts from cloud platform

The cloud platform of BOC has deployed thousands of physical nodes and provisioned nearly 10,000 VMs, the largest deployment of the distributed cloud platform in the financial industry. BOC is also the first enterprise in the banking industry to deploy production services on the distributed cloud platform.

Compared with traditional data centers, the cloud platform improves hardware resource usage by over 2.5 times through elastic resource scaling and simplified processes, and shortens the application rollout time more than five-fold. In the past, it took several weeks, or even months, to prepare for application rollout. Now, it takes only about a week to release the service on the cloud platform.

In 2019, BOC began construction of the first and second phases of the Hefei cloud platform and the cloud platform in Inner Mongolia. When completed, BOC will have a distributed DC architecture based in Xi’an, Hefei, and Inner Mongolia. As the scale of the cloud platform expands, a wide range of financial services, such as Internet services and channel transaction services, will go online. As BOC develops and evolves its distributed cloud platform, Huawei will provide support by continually upgrading HUAWEI CLOUD.