China’s online retail sales grew 49.7% to RMB 2.79 trillion last year, prompting Ma Jiantang, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, to comment: “This is where our hope lies.” It was by far the most high-profile signal that China’s leaders, perhaps helped along by the successful IPO of Alibaba and many other Internet companies, recognize the potential of China’s 780 million online users. It is a sign that they embrace the benefits of the Internet which is expected to create 46 million new jobs in China by 2025, according to a July 2014 report by New York-based McKinsey & Co.
Ma’s comments are in line with Premier Li Keqiang’s introduction, at the 12th National People’s Congress in 2013, of a new Internet+ (Internet Plus) policy for the country. The goal: to “integrate mobile Internet, cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things with modern manufacturing to encourage the healthy development of e-commerce”.
But can Internet+ fuel China’s economy and make up for slowing industrial production?
Retail real estate is dying, stores are closing, and the losers will be as many as 31 million traditional jobs, according to the McKinsey report. For example, sports clothes maker Li Ning Co. is expected to post losses for the third consecutive year and has closed more than 2,000 retail outlets since 2012.
Ma Jiantang noted last year that while traditional industries are facing many challenges, there are many “new products, industries, business models and formats arising from the mobile Internet.” But will the favorable wind of mobile Internet lead China to another decade of soaring GDP growth?
Read more at Forbes.