China-Malaysia Digital Partnership And The Rise Of The Digital Economy in Asia

At the China Business Services Conference at the Beijing International Convention Centre on 1 August 2018, I spoke at a Roundtable on “Eco Sharing along China’s Belt And Road” and prepared the following key points:

1. The Digital Economy Is The Future Of Asia

China is the second largest and a leading global force in the digital economy in the world today.

Over the past two decades, Chinese technology companies leveraged the internet and leapfrogged “bricks and mortar” businesses into digital services in ecommerce, mobile payments and online tech platforms.

The rise and expansion of the Asean and Indian economies will be propelled by the vigor of the ascendant digital economy in Asia in the coming years.

China’s experience, expertise, technology and resources in the digital field will find easy acceptance in emerging Asia and along Belt And Road countries struggling with the digitization of their own economies.

Using their homegrown past experience, expertise, technology and resources, there are many opportunities for Chinese companies to create eco sharing business models to support SMEs along the Belt And Road and in other developing countries in Asia.

The Digital Silk Road will be a model for the win win cooperation and the development of the Digital Economy for the rest of the world.

2. Malaysia Supports Chinese Investments in The Digital Economy

The new Malaysian Government fully supports the Digital Free Trade Zone (DTFZ) and electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) Projects implemented by Alibaba in a joint venture with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). The first eHub and eWTP location outside China, Alibaba has since launched 2 more eHubs and DTFZs in Thailand and Belgium.

The DTFZ is an initiative to facilitate Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to capitalize on the confluence and exponential growth of the internet economy and cross-border e-Commerce activities.

Proposed by Jack Ma and accepted by G20 and WTO a few years ago, Malaysia was quick to adopt and implement the ideas with full support for Alibaba’s initiatives as it will further develop Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor launched in the 1990s.

Malaysia had in the 1990s and early 2000s enacted various ecommerce laws such as the Digital Signature Act 1997, Consumer Protection Act 1999, Consumer Protection (Electronic Trade Transactions) Regulations 2012, Electronic Commerce Act 2006, Electronic Government Activities Act 2007 etc. These laws were crucial in supporting the rapid development of the digital economy in Malaysia.

Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence and Mobile 5G will drive the future of smart cities. Leveraging on its Hangzhou Smart City experience, Alibaba is now partnering Malaysia as the first country outside China to implement Smart City initiatives.

Both Alibaba and the Malaysian Government have clarified that the DTFZ, eWTP and other digital economy initiatives are open to all participants from China and elsewhere to make the eHub ecosystem a big success.

3. Malaysia as a hub for Chinese Investments in Asia

Many foreign investors use Malaysia as the starting point for launching their business products and services in Asia. If their businesses succeed in multicultural Malaysia with significant populations of Malay, Chinese and Indians with their multiple languages, religions and cultures, the adaptations made and experiences gained in Malaysia will help those businesses succeed elsewhere in ASEAN, China and India.

Alibaba Business School has also launched a Global E-Commerce Talent Network (GET) in Malaysia to help educators accelerate development of the digital economy. Malaysian Universities are among the first members of  the GET Network with the greatest demand for training from Malaysia. This will rapidly increase the pool of well trained Malaysians educated with the relevant skills to power the digital economy in Malaysia and the rest of Asean.

The new Malaysian Government warmly welcome Chinese business services enterprises to invest in Malaysia and help transform the DFTZ into a leading digital economy hub in the world.

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