Internet technology has been a phenomenal creator of wealth in China. Coincidentally, this year is also the deadline set by President Xi Jinping to eliminate extreme poverty in the nation. This means the hi-tech industry must spread its wealth and help rural areas in the less-developed provinces progress. Not by accident, that has been a key message from Xi to the state-run World Internet Conference – also known as the Wuzhen Summit. In recent years, tech giants such as Tencent and Alibaba, the parent company of this newspaper, have devoted hundreds of millions in yuan to charity and poverty relief targeting the underprivileged, especially those in the poorer provinces in the country’s interior. Other philanthropic projects aim at infrastructure and medical services. But a more coordinated effort needs to be made between the private hi-tech sector and the authorities. Now, it’s practically an unwritten rule that tech companies, including start-ups, must share in the efforts. For example, young internet firms – led by ByteDance, Pinduoduo and Meituan – are starting to include philanthropy in their business model. In this, they have much to offer. In Xi’s letter to the Wuzhen Summit, a major plan is to accelerate the roll-out of digital infrastructure across the nation to advance traditional industries and mitigate the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic. China has rehomed 9.6 million people under plan to eliminate poverty In May, Beijing called on local authorities to support the building of new industrial big data centres nationwide to help upgrade the domestic manufacturing sector from raw materials and consumer products to digital information. The coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home economy has also boosted the use of many online services. In each of these initiatives, the tech companies can collaborate closely with local authorities to boost employment and productivity. By the end of last year, the total number of rural residents living in extreme poverty dropped to 5.51 million from 98.99 million in 2012, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Poor counties numbered just 52 in seven provinces and regions last year from 832 in 2015, as shown by statistics from the State Council’s leading group office of poverty alleviation and development. In helping state-directed efforts at poverty eradication, tech companies are helping themselves. Less poor residents make better consumers. In recent years, Big Tech has been in a rush to capture China’s next biggest consumer pool from the poorer hinterlands and have been extending new services including 5G. Significant headways have been made to co-opt new online buyers and sellers in those areas, including providing special assistance for potential customers to set up internet business links. The tech sector has experienced the fastest growth within the economy. The rest of the nation deserves a share of that wealth.