Promoting The Digital Silk Road Between China And ASEAN Countries Under The Epidemic

Shi Jiangshan, Aijiao Liu  &  Qianfan Shi

After the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, it quickly spread to most countries and regions in the world, and became the black swan event which has the greatest impact on international economy and global trade in recent years. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the international economy and global trade showed signs of weakness under the agitation of unilateralism, trade protectionism and anti-globalization.

The sudden attack of COVID-19 epidemic aggravated the plight of the global economy, which made the global economic development face unprecedented pressure. As the first country affected by the epidemic, China has not been overwhelmed by the epidemic, but actively responded to it. After more than 70 days and nights of fighting, it became one of the first countries in the world to control the epidemic, resume work and production in time, and lend a hand to other countries on a large scale, contributing to the global fight against the epidemic and economic recovery.

Since the belt and road initiative was put forward in 2013, China has been criticized by some western scholars, saying that China is pursuing neo-colonialism in the world, in an attempt to turn the vast number of developing countries around the world into China’s client states, and become China’s raw material producing areas and industrial products selling places. This attack has not only greatly damaged relations between China and other developing countries, but also cast a shadow over the development of China’s relations with other developing countries.

It should be pointed out that some neighboring countries, especially most ASEAN countries, have not been affected. After the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, China and ASEAN countries accelerated the pace of cooperation, and the bilateral cooperation not only accelerated the epidemic, but also deepened the economic and trade relations. By the end of August this year, the total trade value between China and ASEAN countries reached 416.55 billion US dollars, up 3.8% year on year, accounting for 14.6% of China’s total foreign trade value. ASEAN countries have historically become China’s largest trading partners, and established friendly relations and are each other’s largest trading partner, which has contributed a good cooperation model to the global economic recovery under the COVID-19 epidemic.

As early as 2019, China proposed the Digital Silk Road initiative to ASEAN countries, hoping to further strengthen the economic and trade relations between China and ASEAN countries by vigorously developing the network. This initiative has been widely recognized by ASEAN countries. The year 2020 is a year when the Digital Silk Road proposed by China to ASEAN will land. After the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemic, the traditional global trade mode has been greatly impacted and affected. If we continue to adhere to the traditional trade mode between China and ASEAN countries, it will not only be detrimental to the economic recovery of China, but also to the joint fight against the epidemic. Therefore, China and ASEAN countries have reached a consensus on the Digital Silk Road, hoping that by continuing to deepen digital science and technology cooperation and ensuring normal trade exchanges, it will not only help to upgrade the transitional industries, but also help to update trade methods.

China and ASEAN countries are not two sides in the zero-sum game, but partners in win-win cooperation. Strengthening cooperation between China and ASEAN countries will not only help to strengthen regional economic cooperation, but also benefit the global economic recovery. If China and ASEAN countries want to stabilize the Digital Silk Road during the epidemic, we should do the following:

First of all, China and ASEAN countries are encouraged to support digital equipment infrastructure and increase investment in network digital equipment. During the epidemic, all ASEAN countries reaping the benefits of e-government and e-commerce platform. It is believed that increasing investment in network digital infrastructure will help strengthen the Internet connection between China and ASEAN countries. On the one hand, it is necessary to respect the local business philosophy, upgrade the technology, and strengthen the exchange between markets. On the other hand, China should share weal and woe with ASEAN countries to achieve a win-win situation.

Secondly, further improve the relevant laws and regulations, and judge the related risks that the digital economy may trigger. The legal risk of compliance in the Digital Silk Road is a potential risk in deepening economic and trade cooperation between China and ASEAN countries. On the one hand, compliance risk is particularly prominent in the field of international high-tech cooperation. On the other hand, this kind of risk often escapes from the general legal level and is not limited to a certain country or region. Therefore, China and ASEAN countries should continue to improve relevant laws and regulations to create a good legal environment for the Digital Silk Road.

Last but not least, China and ASEAN countries should strengthen industrial cooperation and continuously promote industrial upgrading. China and ASEAN countries have certain advantages in their respective industries. In order to avoid the negative impact of the Digital Silk Road, we should strengthen the industrial dialogue and cooperation between China and ASEAN countries, and constantly promote the industrial upgrading of both sides, so as to lay a good foundation for the further cooperation between China and ASEAN countries.

(Jiangshan Shi, Aijiao Liu, Scholar of Yunnan Police Academy; Qianfan Shi, Scholar of University of Chinese Academy of Social Science)