China is taking a different approach to the metaverse than Western tech giants. Rather than creating a virtual world for socializing, the Chinese government is backing technologies that it sees as strategic. Also, setting the rules to govern what can go on in cyberspace. One example of this is HiAR. It is an augmented reality company founded in 2012 that helps local authorities in China identify mosquito breeding grounds via drone footage. HiAR is an example of how the Chinese government is using the metaverse to support the economy. This is rather than just for socializing. This approach is in stark contrast to the West, where tech giants like Meta are creating virtual worlds for consumers.
China Leads the Way in the Race for the Metaverse
As the world moves closer to the metaverse, China is leading the way with its tech startups and investors pushing for the development of metaverse technologies and the integration of mixed reality elements into consumer products. The Chinese government is also taking a keen interest in the metaverse. They are backing emerging technologies and putting regulatory frameworks in place. According to Brady Wang, an associate director at tech market research firm Counterpoint, “In China, it’s very much a government-led concept.” The Chinese government and tech-savvy population are poised to make the metaverse a reality first with their support.
China’s Metaverse: Regulations, Benefits, and Challenges
China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has defined the metaverse as consisting of digital twins, mixed reality, and the blockchain. In September 2021, the Chinese government effectively banned cryptocurrencies, decoupling virtual spaces from digital assets. While gaming, a key pillar of the metaverse in the West, has come under pressure from the Chinese government due to concerns over youth addiction, the government is willing to support elements that could benefit the economy. This article explores the regulations, benefits, and challenges of the metaverse in China. It will provide an in-depth analysis of the Chinese government’s stance on the metaverse. Moreover, how it is likely to shape the future of the industry.
Government Prioritizing Digital Twins in 14th Five Year Plan
The 14th Five Year Plan, Beijing’s economic strategy document from 2021 to 2025, is prioritizing digital twins. It is a concept that has recently been gaining traction in the private sector. An action plan published by five ministries, including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, has set a goal to grow the virtual reality industry to $51 billion. Moreover, identified innovative areas such as near-eye display and rendering processing. Jingshu Chen, cofounder of VR company VeeR, commented that the government’s focus on the long-term with policymaking has not been affected by the AI hype. This indicates that the government is committed to its metaverse policies. Furthermore, will continue to prioritize digital twins in the 14th Five Year Plan.
Meta Reaffirms Commitment to Metaverse
Tech giant Meta has recently reaffirmed its commitment to the metaverse. This is despite the reports that the company has shifted focus away from the virtual world in favor of AI. CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the narrative that the company is “moving away from focusing on the metaverse vision” is not accurate. Zuckerberg noted that the rationale for the project remains the same despite the metaverse department losing nearly $4 billion this quarter and $13.7 billion in total last year, and that the company is fully committed to the project.
Meta is dedicated to making the metaverse a reality in the long-term despite increasing losses in 2023.
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