chapter  2
19 Pages

Zhejiang’s Digital Dream

WithMichael Keane, Huan Wu

The aim of this chapter is to show how digital transactions are relevant to the modernization of commerce in China, and in particular how China’s e-commerce platforms are targeting territories along the Belt and Road Initiative. The nomenclature, sometimes referred to as One Belt One Road, describes the overland corridors that connect Western China with Europe via Central and South Asia, known as the Silk Road Economic Belt-and the maritime routes that are intended to link China’s southern provinces to Southeast Asia and beyond, encapsulated by the concept of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Our focus, however, is not Xi’an, traditionally regarded as the Chinese gateway to the overland Silk Road Economic Belt, or Quanzhou in Fujian province, once an entry point to what is now the Maritime Silk Road, but three linked hubs in Zhejiang province: the metropolis Hangzhou, the port city Ningbo and the county level city Yiwu. This is a story of Zhejiang’s digital dream: how the province has moved from basic manufacturing to value-added services. While many provinces in China now claim a stake in the BRI project, we argue that Zhejiang is uniquely positioned as a digitally enabled province. It is home to China’s largest internet telecommunication company, Alibaba, whose data assets, logistics and internet finance services are the model for the next stage of the Chinese economy.