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Robin Li: Sharing economy in tune with communism

Robin Li at the IT Summit, photo from Sina Finance

Robin Li, chairman and CEO of Baidu, compared the sharing economy to communism and data to crude oil on Sunday at the IT Leadership Summit held in Shenzhen, proposing that technology and data be shared to support the sharing economy.

“The idea of a sharing economy is quite similar to that of a communist society,” said Li. He believes that while communism values “distribution according to need”, the sharing economy’s principle of “access, not ownership” preaches along the same lines, as it allows people to satisfy their needs by sharing underused resources.

“Speaking of the sharing economy, we shouldn’t forget data sharing,” said Li. “Data is no less precious than petroleum because its flow leads to magnificent profits.”

Li elaborated on data sharing under the Internet Plus strategy, i.e. the application of information technology in conventional industries. “We have collected huge amounts of data, but none of it really matters unless it’s shared. Only then can industries make the most of data.”

Robin Li at the IT Summit in Shenzhen, photo from

Li says that Baidu is willing to lead the way, as it shares technology ranging from automatic translation and GPS to speech and image recognition. “In fact, sharing our technology gives us the insight we need to make further improvements,” he said.

Baidu never skimps on R&D, a strategy that has given it an edge in artificial intelligence, deep learning, speech recognition, and big data.

According to the first report on the sharing economy by the Internet Society of China, in 2015, China’s sharing economy reached RMB 1.95 trillion (USD 299.5 billion) and involved over 500 million people. The report predicts a YoY growth of 40% in the next five years for China’s sharing economy, which may account for over 10% of the country’s GDP by 2020.

(Top photo from Sina Finance)

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