Prime Minister Zoran Zaev will be heading to Rome on Tuesday for talks with Italian Prime Minister Giusepe Conte. The Rome visit is linked to Italy’s initiative to put EU accession talks back on track after the inconclusive enlargement summit debate.
Italy’s Prime Minister said Rome would propose that the European Union restarts talks on enlarging the bloc to include North Macedonia and Albania in November, after the EU blocked the beginning of negotiations with the two Balkan countries.
Earlier this month, EU heads of state failed to reach unanimity on EU enlargement issue after lengthy and inconclusive discussions. All eyes were on France, as President Emmanuel Macron’s position has been the major stumbling block for opening accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania.
Giuseppe Conte told a news conference after the summit that a decision by EU leaders not to begin talks was a “historic error”.
After the meeting with Italian Prime Minister, Zaev will travel to Brussels for a working dinner hosted by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.
The outgoing EU foreign policy and security chief, Federica Mogherini will host an informal gathering with the Western Balkans’ leaders in Brussels October 29. The leaders of all six Western Balkan countries have been invited.
It will be the last in a series of Mogherini’s informal meetings with leaders from the region, when they usually discuss the opportunities to advance the region’s EU integration.
With the leaders, Mogherini will exchange views on developments in the region, discuss common challenges and give a round-up of joint achievements made during her tenure.
Tapping digital technology in fighting covid-19 and resuming business to open up a new future for recovery of world economy
The COVID-19 pandemic has a severe impact on the world. However, development of digitalization has attracted much attention due to its unique advantages. It is even becoming a new trend in globalization. China attaches great importance to digitalization. President Xi Jinping proposed to promote building Digital China and jointly build community with a shared future in cyberspace at the Second World Internet Conference in 2015. At the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2017, he proposed building a Digital Silk Road to better benefit peoples around the world by advancing digitalization. It carries special significance now applying digital technology in fighting COVID-19 and resuming business, in order to open up a new future for the world to overcome the epidemic and promote economic recovery.
I. Tapping digital technologies in fighting epidemic and resuming business will usher in technological breakthroughs and create a collaborative symbiotic innovation chain
In his keynote speech at the opening session of the World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos, President Xi Jinping pointed out, “We should develop new growth models and seize opportunities presented by the new round of industrial revolution and digital economy. And when cultivating new industries and new business models, we should create new jobs”. It provides important guidance for creating a collaborative and symbiotic digital innovation chain. The practice of tapping digital technologies in fighting epidemic and resuming business has proved the next few years will be a critical period for creating a collaborative symbiotic innovation chain.
Leading digital technologies continue to see innovative break-through. In May 2017, at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi Jinping stated “we need to achieve innovation-driven development and deepen cooperation in frontier areas such as smart manufacturing and digital economy”. To continuously bring revolutionary changes in cutting-edge digital technology, China formulates and implements national strategy on big data, “Internet Plus” action plan, “New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan” and etc.
Blockchain is highly valued as one of the core technologies. At present, the People’s Bank of China’s digital currency is being piloted in Shenzhen, Xiong’an, Chengdu, and Suzhou. The state will incorporate infrastructure related to blockchain into new infrastructure construction, and accelerate the integrated development of blockchain technology and society as well as economy. The 5G technology has entered the commercial use. In 2019, China officially opened 5G business. 5G+infrared temperature measurement, 5G+delivery robots, 5G+cleaning robots have been active in various scenarios during China’s epidemic prevention and control. 5G is binding all production factors to provide impetus for digital change in diffent industries.
In terms of artificial intelligence technology, core technologies like voice AI make constant break-through. The new generation of Internet, artificial intelligence, and digital technologies have shifted from connection and empowerment to the integration and reconstruction of industrial chains, promoting the integration of people flow, logistics, capital flow, and information flow. Their efficient collaboration makes production more refined, supply and demand matching more precise, and industry division more pinpointed. In fighting Covid-19 and accelerating resumption of production, China deploys an innovation chain around industry chain, lays out the industry chain around the innovation chain to step up its efforts to supply pharmaceutical raw materials, necessities and PPE to the international market for fighting epidemic and pepping up economic recovery.
The popularization of digital technology is eye-catching. In his congratulatory letter to the 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference, Xi Jinping emphasized that “China is ready to work with other countries to cooperate in technology exchanging, data sharing, application markets and other areas and share opportunities for the development of the digital economy”. China is embracing an eruption of digital technology application. In particular, a huge 5G industry application matrix is taking shape. A number of new industries, new forms of business and new models are thriving. The “basic application Plus” model is rapidly replicating in industry, transportation, energy, and tourism. For example, China Beidou Compass Satellite Navigation system acted as a trans-disciplinary pioneer in scientific and technological anti-epidemic. In terms of digital mapping, Beidou positioning equipment has ensured high-precision positioning and accurate mapping in complex worksites, and saved precious time for rapid construction of Huoshenshan Hospital and Leishenshan Hospital.
In terms of unimpeded transportation to facilitate logistics, the Ministry of Transport recommends the best routes and driving-track information service during the outbreak, through the vehicle-mounted Beidou terminal connected to the National Freight Vehicle Public Supervision and Service Platform.
In terms of locating patients, combining Beidou Navigation, the Internet, mobile communication networks, big data, cloud computing and etc, “Beidou +” information products can accurately retrace and publish the trajectory of the infected, providing critical data support for community-level prevention and control. Digital technology is now widely used in epidemic prevention and control and resumption of production, which improves economic efficiency and accelerates economic structure transformation. It will surely become an important driving force for the global response to economic recession.
II. When tapping digital technologies in fighting epidemic and resuming business, we insist on inclusiveness and mutual benefit, and building a mutually beneficial and win-win value chain.
In 2015, President Xi Jinping emphasized at the Second World Internet Conference that “we should promote openness and cooperation so that more countries and people will ride on the fast train of the information era and share the benefits of Internet development”. The digital economy is becoming the key to a global, mutually beneficial and win-win value chain integration. It is accelerating the digitization and intelligent construction of the global value chain, which can foster the economic integration and political mutual trust of countries, and promote single value chains to converge into a value network.
Digital consumption continues to expand and grow. In August 2018, at the first China International Smart Industry Exposition, President Xi Jinping stressed in his congratulatory message, “China stands ready to actively participate in the international cooperation of the digital economy, work with other countries to promote the healthy development of the digital economy, and cultivate new kinetic energy and open up new space for world economic growth.”
Digital resources are the main driver of digital economy, and have played an increasingly important role in promoting the vigorous development of the consumer market. As of March 2020, the number of online shopping users in China has reached 710 million, an increase of 100 million from the end of 2018. The transaction volume reached 10.63 trillion RMB (1.37 trillion EUR), an increase of 16.5% year-on-year. China has been the top digital consumer market for past seven consecutive years. Among them, the online retail sales of physical goods reached 8.52 trillion RMB (1.1 trillion EUR), an increase of 19.5% year-on-year, accounting for 20.7% of the total retail sales of social consumer goods. Online consumption in 2019 has played an active role in expanding domestic demand.
The new e-commerce model represented by social media and live broadcasting has been innovatively developed to release potential domestic consumption. The annual social e-commerce transaction volume increased by over 60% year-on-year. E-commerce platforms and logistics services are expanding into new markets, propelling continuous improvement of online shopping infrastructure and commodity supply in small cities and rural areas. Mobile payment services are driving emergence of new online and offline consumption scenarios. Online catering, travel agency, housekeeping platform boom, expanding the horizon of digital consumption.
Digital commerce is reshaping global value chains. In 2015, as President Xi Jinping emphasized at the Second World Internet Conference, “we are ready to step up cooperation with all countries. Through the development of cross-border e-commerce and the building of information economy demonstration zones, we will be able to spur the growth of worldwide investment and trade, and promote global development of digital economy”.
Channeling countries and large multinational corporations to take the digital economy as the main direction of future development, China is highly open to participate in the global value chain and division of labor. In 2019, the total value of imports and exports of retail goods through the Customs Cross-border E-commerce Management Platform reached 186.21 billion RMB (24 billion EUR), an increase of 38.3%.
Policies and export models have been continuously optimized. The Cross-border E-commerce Comprehensive Pilot Zones have been further increased. China set up the first Cross-border E-commerce Comprehensive Pilot Zone in 2015 and reached 59 pilot zones after three enlargements. In April 2020, its number increased to 105 with 46 additional zones. Operating costs have been reduced for cross-border export thanks to continuous improvement of export policies and models
In 2019, the State Council promulgated the “tax-free with no invoice required” policy, making corporate income tax verification and collection more convenient. Later last year, new model of e-commerce bonded export was launched in Hangzhou Comprehensive Pilot Zone. By this model, online customs declaration, customs clearance, foreign exchange settlement, tax refund and other services are provided one-stop. Cross-border e-commerce as an important component of digital commerce is developing rapidly. Digital commerce has played an important role in stabilizing the supply chain in fighting against epidemics.
III. Tapping digital technologies in fighting epidemic and resuming business reinvents business model, creating an open and cooperative industrial chain
In his congratulatory message to the Fourth World Internet Conference in 2017, President Xi Jinping pointed out that “China’s digital economy will enter a fast lane. China hopes to promote all countries to take express train of the internet and digital economy together”. China has made positive contributions to transforming the world economy to a digital one. Especially through tapping digital technologies in fighting epidemic and resuming business, China helps to maintain the stability of global industrial chain and supply chain.
New forms and models of digital economy are emerging. During his visit to Zhejiang Province on April 1, 2020, President Xi Jinping emphasized the need to “pay close attention to the layout of strategic emerging industries and future industries such as digital economy, life and health, new materials, vigorously promote technological innovation, and strive to expand new growth points and form new development momentum”.
Chinese digital economy led and supported mainly by innovation is taking shape at accelerated pace. In 2019, size of digital economy of China reached 31.3 trillion RMB (4 trillion EUR), ranking among the highest in the world, accounting for 34.8% of GDP. Digital consumption continues to grow. In 2019, online consumption exceeded the 10 trillion RMB (1.28 trillion EUR) mark, ranking first in the world for seven consecutive years, which prompts more new models and new forms of business model to participate in market competition at a faster rate.
The construction of China’s digital economy stems from the pioneering exploration and successful practice in the field of information technology. Back to 2000, the then Governor of Fujian Province, Mr. Xi Jinping, proposed the concept of building a “digital Fujian” with a clear goal of “digitalization, networking, and smartness”. During his work in Zhejiang Province, one of major decisions made by Mr. Xi is to build “Digital Zhejiang” .
In September 2016, China, as host of G20, listed “digital economy” as an important issue in the G20 ’s blueprint for innovation and growth for the first time.The“G20 Digital Economy Development and Cooperation Initiative” adopted by G20 at Hangzhou Summit is the world’s first digital economy policy document jointly signed by leaders of many countries. Facing the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 on countries and the world economy, digital economy is becoming an “accelerator” and “amplifier” to promote global economic reform, efficiency reform and dynamics reform.
The innovative forms by digital businesses have sprung up. President Xi Jinping pointed out at Leaders’ Special Event on Digital Economy during the G20 Osaka Summit in 2019, “we want to create a fair, just and non-discriminatory market environment. We could not develop with closed doors, let alone interfere with the market artificially”.
Digital platforms, digital marketing, digital transactions, and digital logistics have emerged in large numbers. And the global influence of digital companies has increased. They are playing an increasingly important role in promoting industrial upgrade and leading global development. According to the UN “Digital Economy Report 2019”, digital platform companies owned by China and the United States account for 90% of the market value of the world’s 70 largest digital platforms. Among them, seven super platforms including Alibaba and Tencent, account for two thirds of the total market value of the global digital economy. As of December 2019, the total number of Chinese Internet companies listed both at home and abroad was 135, an increase of 12.5% from the end of 2018; the total number of unicorn IT companies was 187, an increase of 74, i.e. 65.5% from the end of 2018.
The platform economy continues to empower the digital development of the industry. On the demand side, platform companies have played an important role in promoting business model innovation, empowering businesses, brand growth and digitizing consumption. On the supply side, platform companies provide key support for promoting the commodities supply-side reform, improving manufacturing efficiency, and promoting industrial transformation and upgrade through data-driven optimization of commodity supply and improvement of the level of supply chain digitization.
IV. Tapping digital technologies in fighting epidemic and resuming business promotes the transformation of society, and creates an Internet of Things (IOT) ecosystem.
On the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi Jinping pointed out that we should “advance the development of big data, cloud computing and smart cities so as to turn them into a digital silk road of the 21st century”. This digital silk road has become an important platform for creating an Internet of Things (IOT) ecosystem, including the macro-ecosystem for basic software and hardware, the meso-ecosystem for application demonstration in key areas and the micro-ecosystem for platform products.
The transformation from a traditional society to a digitalized society is promoted. In the letter to congratulate the opening of the Fifth World Internet Conference, President Xi Jinping stressed that it is important “to promote the development of digital technology globally and build a sustainable digital world, in order to make the fruits of the internet development better benefit the people of all countries.”
China has accelerated the coverage of digital technology into every corner of the society, showing diversified features. By March 2020, China has 904 million internet users, an increase of 75.08 million compared with the end of 2018, and the Internet coverage rate has reached 64.5%.
The building of digital city is accelerated. The development of “transportation, medical service, government service” has integrated. To use cutting-edge digital technology to innovate the measures, models and philosophy of city management, such as using big data, cloud computing, block chain and artificial intelligence to solve traffic congestion, promote city management and contain epidemic.
The level of digital rural construction continued to improve. The internet coverage rate in rural areas is 46.2%, with an increase of 7.8% compared with the end of 2018. The gap between urban and rural internet coverage rate was narrowed by 5.9%.
Transformation empowered by digital technology has helped secure the victory against poverty. By October 2019, 99% of China’s villages below the poverty line have broadband access. China has achieved the world’s leading rural internet coverage and fought against poverty through e-commerce, online education, short video and other means.
Located in Southwestern corner of China, Yunnan Province has launched its Digital Yunnan Exhibition Center and China’s first blockchain hub which has attracted 24 enterprises including Alibaba.com, Hyperchain and Shengjianan Biotech. It also launched the first provincial level blockchain origin-tracing code, the “Peacock Code”. Now, Yunnan is striving to realize full coverage of 5G Internet as one of its top ten projects and boost building a digital Yunnan.
Digital infrastructure gives birth to a business community of IOT. On Leaders’ Special Event on Digital Economy at the sideline of the G20 Osaka Summit in 2019, President Xi Jinping advocated that “we need to forcefully advance the construction of digital infrastructure and promote connectivity”.
China promotes the vigorous development of connectivity between China and other countries through “new infrastructure” embodied by 5G, data center and etc.. Especially against the backdrop of regular epidemic prevention and control, China has attracted trillions of investment for new infrastructure construction projects.
New infrastructure consists of three branches: information technology infrastructure, fusion infrastructure and creative infrastructure. Information technology infrastructure means infrastructure that evolves from new generation of technologies, including telecommunication Internet infrastructure (5G, IOT, industrial Internet and satellite Internet), new technology infrastructure (artificial intelligence, cloud computing, block chain) and computing power infrastructure (data center, intelligent computing center). Fusion infrastructure means using deep fusion technology to support the transformation of traditional infrastructure, mainly including smart traffic and smart resources infrastructure. Innovative Infrastructure means infrastructure with non-profitable feature that supports science and technology research and development and product search and manufacturing, mainly including basic infrastructure for major technology, scientific and educational infrastructure and infrastructure for industrial technology innovation.
V. Tapping digital technologies in fighting epidemic and resuming business promotes the level of global governance by fostering a security chain for cyberspace.
At the Leaders’ Special Event on Digital Economy at the sideline of the G20 Osaka Summit in 2019, President Xi Jinping stated that “digital economy develops rapidly and is profoundly reshaping the world economy and human society and we should work together to improve data governance rules” .
This important statement points out the direction for digital governance. During epidemic prevention & control and resumption of production, the widely used “Health Code” in China has become ever important, contributing to protection of people’s safety with a digital approach.
China has optimized the efficiency of digital collaborative governance of our society. On the Second World Internet Conference, President Xi Jinping emphasized that “cyberspace is the common space of activities for mankind. The future of cyberspace should be in the hands of all countries.” We should work together to foster a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace and use big data to improve the modernization rate of state governance.
Digital collaborative governance has obviously made its contribution to this epidemic prevention and control. For example, intelligent medical service has supported epidemic diagnosis and treatment to secure the functioning of hospitals; smart city network has improved the efficiency of urban epidemic containment; smart logistics service has responded to the urgent demand during this period to guarantee people’s livelihood and social operation; smart education has met the needs of online learning and develop a new way of education; smart manufacturing has further improved production efficiency and supported high-quality development of economy.
“Internet + government services” is stepping forward in an orderly fashion, boosting the digital transformation of government and modernization of governance. As of March 2020, the number of government online service users in China has reached 694 million, accounting for 76.8% of the total Internet users. The speed of building digital government is accelerating. The National Integrated Online Government Service Platform was launched for trial and has played the initial role of “digital government” in supporting the prevention and control efforts of COVID-19 from early 2020.
The legalization process of online government services has been accelerated. Its regulated, standardized and intensive development has achieved initial results. Provinces have gradually achieved unified data pooling and collective operation for mobile government service applications and realized data sharing and taking the whole country into account.
China has fostered a global system for digital governance. To build a cyberspace community with a shared future for mankind is the Chinese proposal for global digital governance. President Xi Jinping stressed that in his congratulatory letter to the 2019 China International Big Data Industry Expo that “all countries around the world need to strengthen cooperation, deepen exchanges, and seize the opportunities of the development in digitization, networking, and artificial intelligence”.
We have contributed Chinese wisdom to global digital governance and strengthened exchange and cooperation as well as communication and consultation in this regard. China is willing to work hand in hand with other countries to address the risks and challenges faced by digital governance and promote the rule of law in digital governance. China advocates mutual respect for internet sovereignty and promoting digital connectivity and shared governance through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
In order to actively deal with impact of the outbreak, China has made full use of the Internet, big data, AI as well as other digital technologies. China has witnessed online coordination, online data contribution, and systematic digital governance among its citizens nationwide.
This will not only help to coordinate the current epidemic prevention and control needs with development of society and economy, but also help to define the boundaries of data collection, processing and release and strengthen relevant legal system and safety precautions of digital governance, so as to ensure national security, citizen’s privacy and business secrets are under full protection.
Arrest warrant issued for Spasov
Former special police officer Igor Spasov, who has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for murdering Martin Neskoski, is wanted on recall to prison after going missing.
Macedonian police issued an arrest warrant on Tuesday after he failed to show up to begin his sentence. The arrest warrant has been published on the web-site of the Ministry of Interior.
The former member of special police force vanished after ignoring summons to serve time after he was sentenced in prison on murder charges.
The man had probably fled justice to avoid serving a 14-year jail sentence for a murder conviction. He was to report to Idrizovo correctional facility on 18 October.
The murder took place during a late-night celebration of VMRO-DPMNE’s victory in 2011 parliamentary elections.
Matthew Palmer due in Skopje today
The US Secretary of State’s Special Representative for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, will visit North Macedonia on Tuesday.
Special Representative Palmer is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.
The two are expected to discuss the bilateral relations between North Macedonia and the United States, including the US support for the country’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. They will exchange views on the situation in the country and the region.
In late August, the U.S. State Department appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary Palmer as special envoy for the Western Balkans with a mandate to help integrate the region into Western institutions.
US Secretary of State has appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer as his Special Representative for the Western Balkans. In this role, Palmer will lead our efforts to strengthen U.S. diplomatic engagement in support of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and focus on integration of the Western Balkan countries into Western institutions.