Research and Advances

The E-Transformation of Western China

Western China is a vast area of just over four million square kilometers traditionally associated with the historic Silk Road connecting traders, manufacturers, and consumers in Europe and Asia. But for the past few hundred years, the Silk Road has largely been forgotten. Today, however, China's opening to the outside world and general trend toward technological modernization is starting to be felt in these far-western regions. The emergence of e-commerce in coastal China is well-documented [7]. Here, we report on the technological changes taking place in Western China, assessing the prospects for its economic and social development ahead. We focus on what we term the e-transformation of the Tibetan (Xizang), Xinjiang Uygur, and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions and Qinghai and Gansu provinces (see the Figure). These areas cover 43% of the land mass of China, yet include only 4% of the country's overall population of more than 1.3 billion.


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