in Beijing last month launched China’s first metaverse patent pool. Enables companies and academic institutions to cross-license technologies related to emerging fields.
The project is part of the capital’s ambition to attract more than 100 Metaverse companies by the end of 2024, and includes about 170 Metaverse-related patents to date. But Beijing is one of many cities aiming to become China’s center. technology in the digital world.
In October last year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued A three-year plan for China’s “industrial metaverse,” it is deploying technology as part of a national strategy to build a digital economy that will complement its current $18 trillion economy, second only to the United States.
Deng Jianpeng, a fintech law expert and law professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, said China’s interest in the Metaverse is primarily for real-world industry benefits.
“[Examples of metaverse use cases in legacy industries]include: BMW’s industrial metaverse built by [Artificial Intelligence leader] NvidiaIt provides a digital replica of BMW’s production line, allowing automakers to test and optimize performance at a lower cost,” Deng said.
Metaverse with Chinese characteristics
In early January, China’s financial capital Shanghai made the announcement. 20 metaverse use cases It is planned to be developed by the end of 2025. Ranging from a virtual replica of a national steel mill to a Metaverse hospital for remote diagnosis of patients.
Zhao Xing, a professor at the Big Data Institute of Fudan University in Shanghai, reiterated that China’s Metaverse project focuses on offline real-world scenarios.
“Basically, China aims to use the Metaverse to solve existing technological, industrial and administrative problems,” Zhao said.
“After missing [earlier] China’s local governments are striving for leadership in the Metaverse as opportunities grow in the areas of the Internet, mobile web and artificial intelligence, but it is still in its early stages and the future is uncertain. ”
On the enterprise side, “the adoption of the metaverse in real-world use cases may give legacy industries an opportunity to innovate at the forefront of information technology,” Zhao said. he quoted the metaverse collaboration It was between Chinese liquor giant Guizhou Maotai and tech giant NetEase, which launched a winery-themed metaverse and issued NFTs linked to liquor bottles.
According to Deng Xiaoping, Chinese regulations on cryptocurrencies and NFTs are another factor driving attention to the industrial metaverse.
“Open metaverses like sandboxes typically include cryptocurrency as an incentive. There will be trading, investment, speculation and potential money laundering, but the Metaverse platform may not meet the standards of financial regulators,” he said.
Deng noted that cryptocurrencies and NFTs are essential for verifying ownership and facilitating transactions in an open metaverse, which could be a future trend in metaverse technology. But compliance issues outweigh the opportunities.
“This (the involvement of cryptocurrencies and NFTs) poses legal risks and could be a policy-sensitive topic in China,” said Deng Xiaoping.
Financialization of digital assets This is a key issue for Chinese regulators, who already outlawed cryptocurrency initial coin offerings (ICOs) in 2017, followed by a total ban on cryptocurrency trading in September 2021. issued a decree.
As a result, policymakers are shunning public blockchains such as Ethereum and Solana in favor of non-cryptocurrency private or permissioned networks where access is controlled by a single or multiple identified entities. became.
“The Chinese government Blockchain ecosystem without cryptocurrenciesThis makes it difficult to promote public blockchain,” said Deng Xiaoping. “Private or permissioned blockchains, on the other hand, are controlled by one large company or multiple centralized nodes, making them easier for regulators to monitor.”
However, China’s cryptocurrency regulations could be amended in the future, especially since Hong Kong introduced new rules for cryptocurrency trading on June 1.
“This is similar to what China did to Shenzhen during its economic reforms in the 1980s,” said Deng Xiaoping. “Through the experiment in Hong Kong, we can assess the risks of crypto assets and then decide whether or how to adjust mainland crypto regulation, which should definitely be considered. I think.”
And public blockchains are still within the reach of Chinese policymakers. On June 13, the Shanghai government announced a three-year plan. plan This includes support for developer tools for both consortium blockchains and “mainstream public blockchains,” as well as improved interoperability between differently structured blockchain networks.
As China seeks to develop a national Metaverse strategy, the hype around the technology’s potential and FUD (fear of missing out) across the country continues, with more than a dozen Chinese provinces and cities rolling out Metaverse plans. and policy.
Regardless of their different economic circumstances, local governments seem to boast the same ambition to “introduce at least 100 metaverse companies” or “build at least 30 exemplary metaverse use cases.”
Deng Xiaoping said rivalries among Chinese government officials have played a role in the hype for the Metaverse, as carriers depend on the economic performance of a jurisdiction. The more revenue local businesses generate, the more likely local policymakers are to be promoted.
Cash is hanging in some cities.Zhengzhou City, which issued the Metaverse plan Relatively late on May 24, it has proposed up to 200 million yuan (US$28.34 million) in start-up capital investment for Metaverse companies moving their headquarters to the city.
“If so many local governments rush to launch metaverse policies, it could be bad for the industry,” Deng said.
“It would be better to first develop the technology in first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhou and Hangzhou, and then use these cities as examples to expand metaverse adoption in other regions.” said he.
Despite government ambitions, some of China’s biggest tech companies appear to be shrinking their metaverse operations.
In February 2023, TencentThe company, which runs China’s top social media site Wechat, has implemented what it calls a “replacement” of the 300-person augmented reality unit responsible for the Metaverse initiative, but local media reported that this was the dissolution of the unit. .
Baidu, the Chinese tech giant known as China’s Google equivalent, also appears to be losing interest in the Metaverse.
In May, Baidu project manager Majie said: Nishira Metaverse, reportedly He left the company due to low profitability and switched his focus to artificial intelligence. Baidu did not respond to Forkast.News’ request for comment.
“There is a huge demand for hardware, software and research talent to build an immersive metaverse,” Den said.
“The Metaverse experience built by the companies mentioned above (Tencent and Baidu) is still far from user expectations. And Apple’s recent virtual reality headset release It shows that US companies still lead global metaverse development. ”
China’s metaverse development faces another challenge.
“The Metaverse relies primarily on CPUs from high-performance computers manufactured by US companies such as NVIDIA,” Den said.
With the United States controlling global chip supply and ongoing tensions between the United States and China, “it is difficult to obtain qualified CPUs in sufficient quantities to meet the demand for computing power from the metaverse industry.” may be difficult.”
Elsewhere, Japan and Korea China has also invested heavily in the Metaverse, which could benefit from a more friendly business environment and regulations, while China enjoys a user base and financial advantage, Deng said. .
“China is arguably the most successful country in terms of facilitating metaverse adoption with the power of capital.”
According to Fudan University’s Zhao, the three countries’ efforts on the Metaverse represent different aspects of the Metaverse, all of which may contribute to the future of this emerging industry.
“Korea’s Metaverse Roadmap is [Mark Zuckerberg’s] Meta is Japan’s focus on Web 3.0 and digital assets,” said Zhao of Fudan University.
“Each of the three country routes has its own characteristics, and I hope that the three routes will be integrated in 20 years when the definition of the Metaverse is decided.”