BEIJING, April 18 (Xinhua) -- In today's China, it does not take long for one to see the country's thriving Internet sector.
In any city, people use their mobile phones every day to shop, order food, hail a car, pay utilities and do many other things.
All in all, China has 700 million Internet users, more than 4 million websites, the world's most extensive 4G network and a huge online marketplace. Its retail transactions combined are larger than anywhere else.
The country's Internet industry began to develop in the 1990s but the pace notably picked up in the last two decades.
Take the Internet infrastructure for example. In 2017 alone, China added 7.05 million kilometers of optic fiber, extending its total length in the country by 23.2 percent.
The watershed event: a key speech made by President Xi Jinping on April 19, 2016 on the work of cybersecurity and informatization.
The speech and many others made by Xi since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012 showed the strategic thinking on building China's cyber strength.
A state plan on developing a "digital China" over the next decade was issued. Substantial progress is aimed in the five years starting 2016.
Three principles have been made clear.
Firstly, China's cyberspace development should adhere to the people-centered development philosophy. Xi has said that Internet-based services should be expanded to reach more people, costs be lowered, and the majority of people benefit.
Secondly, Xi said big data was the next stage of informatization development. He has ordered China to study big data development and its implications for society. He said China should examine its gains and shortfalls in this particular area and push for a national big data strategy.
Thirdly, building a "community with a shared future in cyberspace." Xi has called for global efforts to make the Internet -- a common homeland for humanity -- more beautiful, cleaner and safer.
Remarkable advances have been made, such as in government e-administration. Across the country, nearly 32,000 government websites have been set up to bring public services online. Mobile apps are being used for the public and government to interact.
Internet technology has penetrated many areas.
Life is easier for online trainer Zhang Fan. Using a new camera and software system, he can monitor the study progress of each student in his virtual class and have the computer design individualized teaching methods and materials.
Business is in bloom for tea farmers in southern Guangdong Province. Like many living in remote mountains, they use the Internet to sell local products to customers across the country.
China's digital economy grew to 27 trillion yuan (4.29 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2017, making up 32.9 percent of the gross domestic product. With the growth of good roads and the Internet, e-commerce has become a big driver of rural consumption.
Developing a "digital China" is good for boosting the people's sense of fulfillment and is a requirement for speeding up China's modernization.
Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi at the core, China's cyber strength will continue to grow and push for the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.