Chinese Local Gov’ts, Tech Firms Take Tentative Metaverse Steps
Chinese government-run firms and local governments are starting to explore metaverse-related innovations – although they are proceeding with due caution, given the fact that the nation last year enacted its most stringent crypto crackdown to date.
With the rest of the tech world launching headfirst into the metaverse, Chinese players are now looking for a way to follow suit, albeit in a manner that will allow them to sidestep crypto.
Per the Securities Times, one of the first local governments to explore the notion of the metaverse was Shanghai, whose policy-forming Municipal Party Committee Economic Labor Conference made indirect reference to metaverse developments late last year.
The media outlet remarked that on December 21, the conference concluded that it needed to “guide enterprises” to “step up their research” of “important platforms” that enable “interaction between the virtual world and the real society in the future.”
The media outlet stated that this utterance was widely “considered to be the first positive statement made by a local government [body] about the metaverse.” It also mentioned that Shanghai has since followed up with more concrete metaverse pledges.
Indeed, the media agency noted, the term “metaverse” was used “multiple times” in the Shangai IT regulator’s latest tech and economic Five-Year Plan. The plan makes numerous mention of “the prospective deployment” of the metaverse, alongside quantum computing, third-generation semiconductors and 6G communications.
China has been keen to position itself as a world leader in blockchain innovation – with the technology championed by President Xi Jinping himself. However, Beijing wants its cake and wants to eat it, too: the model it favors is blockchain on private networks, with no room for crypto in the picture.
But it is not just Shanghai that has made overt reference to the metaverse: the same media outlet said it had found reference to the term in the IT industry expansion plans formulated by local government bodies in Beijing, Wuhan, and Hefei, where IT regulators spoke of the need to develop the metaverse with the same weight as medical tech, Big Data, and cloud computing.
The media outlet also noted that Sun Taoran, the CEO of Lakala, a fintech affiliate of the tech giant Lenovo, had launched two metaverse-related proposals in Beijing. Sun is a member of the policy-forming People’s Political Consultative Conference (Beijing branch). One of the proposals refers to creating a “pilot industrial park” for “Beijing’s metaverse development.”
In November last year, industry players under the auspices of the China Mobile and Communications Association (CMCA) formed what they called the Metaverse Industry Committee, with industry heavyweights like China Mobile and China Unicom joining as founding members. Securities Times noted that a “second batch” of members had recently been accepted to the alliance, with 15 publicly listed now on the roster – bringing the committee’s membership to 65.
As previously reported, with crypto now frowned upon, big tech firms in the nation – including the likes of Tencent, JD.com, and Alibaba – have had to scale back their non-fungible token (NFT) plans, even going so far as to launch NFTs on private blockchains, rename them “digital collections”, and impose resale restrictions on their tokens.
Regardless, the firms have pressed ahead with these plans, while the state news agency Xinhua stunned communities with its own (free) “NFT” offerings – although it was issued on a private blockchain.
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