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China Focus: Internet cooperation benefits countries along the Belt and Road

BEIJING, May 2 -- "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 onli-ne recently.

One user praised the singer Tuesday on Weibo, China's twitter-like service, "It's great t-o 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 a-ll, 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'v-e already experienced the convenience brought by Internet cooperation along the Belt and Road co-untries 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 be-come 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 la-st week.

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

Since the Belt and Road Initiative was launched in 2013, China has inked many deals with cou-ntries along the routes in the field of the Internet, aiming to build a transnational network that connec-ts 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 a-nd 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 a-ctivities 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 C-yberspace, part of its commitment to assisting developing countries with cyber security capacity buil-ding.

Besides the government, enterprises are also taking actions. Alibaba's chairman Jack Ma prop-osed a "cyber Silk Road" this March, with a plan to establish an e-commerce hub in Malaysia wh-ich 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 Bei-jing.

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

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