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China’s industrial Metaverse strategy

Today we’re reporting on last week’s news that China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, alongside five other departments (the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, State Administration of Radio and Television, and State General Administration of Sports), have jointly released an action plan regarded as China’s first national-level policy in support of metaverse development, the Virtual Reality and Industry Application Integration Development Action Plan (2022-2026).

This comes shortly after General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) President Xi Jinping secured a third term as CCP General Secretary, becoming only the second leader of the CCP to do so (the other being Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong).

The Ministry’s Action Plan is seen as world's most populous country’s first national-level policy that supports the development of the Metaverse. Previous efforts in directing state resources toward Metaverse development have taken place at a city, rather than at a national, level. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has previously issued guidance on the development of virtual reality technologies back in 2018, but these pre-dated mainstream discussion of the Metaverse.

While the plan doesn’t explicitly mention the Metaverse, it encourages investment in technologies that support virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed-reality experiences, and calls for innovation across areas such as full-body motion capture, gesture, eye, and expression tracking, rendering processing, network transmission, content production, compression coding, and security and trustworthiness. The plan views these technologies as key components in the next generation of information technology and the digital economy.

According to the Ministry’s Action Plan, the Chinese virtual reality industry (including related hardware, software, and applications) is expected to grow to more than 350 billion yuan (or 50 billion dollars) by 2026. This double the United States forecast share of the 2026 global virtual reality market and half the forecast total of 100 billion dollars. As part of the plan, various industries will be promoted to carry out large-scale virtual reality pilots, including industrial production, cultural tourism, integrated media, education and training, sports and health, business creativity, and smart cities. These large-scale pilots are seen key to realising the benefits of virtual reality technologies in industry, with the Action Plan noting: "When it comes to applying technology to the industry, it basically sets a tone. The important direction of the new generation of information technology is to integrate with the real industry."

This could be good news for companies like Apple, who assembles nearly all of its products in China, a country that also represents Apple's third largest geographic market by sales. This could be the push Apple needs to launch its “Apple Reality” headset. Other companies investing in China include video game software development company Unity Technologies, which has recently struck a deal to form a Chinese joint venture called Unity China, valued at $1 billion. Please leave a comment below!

Sara Kurig/Unsplash

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