AI as a digital asset

China: AI initiatives in china

Latest developments

On 12 August 2022, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and another five departments released the Guidance on Accelerating Scene Innovation to Promote High-Level Application of Artificial Intelligence for High-Quality Economic Development (the “Guidance"), which clearly sets scene innovation as the development goal of both AI technology upgrades and new paths for industrial growth. The Guidance also puts forward specific measures including creating major scenes for AI, improving innovation capabilities for AI scenes, accelerating the opening of AI scenes, and strengthening the supply of innovation elements for AI scenes.

Following the Guidance, on 15 August 2022, the MOST issued the Notice on Supporting the Construction of New Generation Artificial Intelligence Application Scenarios, releasing the first batch of application scenarios with good foundations. The first batch of application scenarios involve 10 specific fields including smart farms, smart ports, smart mines, smart factories, smart homes, smart education, autonomous driving, smart diagnosis and treatment, smart courts, and smart supply chains.

On 18 October 2023, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) released a statement proposing a Global AI Governance Initiative. The initiative systematically outlines China’s proposals on AI governance from three aspects, namely, the development, security and governance of AI.


Categories of major AI scenarios

The Guidance proposes that one of the development goals of AI scenario innovation is to accelerate the emergence of major application scenarios in the fields of economic and social development, scientific research discoveries, and major activity guarantees. The Guidance divides major AI scenarios into 4 categories and encourages exploration of the application scenarios for AI technology in these scenarios:

  • Category 1. Cultivation of a high-end, efficient and intelligent economy: an in-depth exploration of the application scenarios for AI technology in key industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, finance, commerce, and home furnishing shall be encouraged to promote the high-end and efficient development of the smart economy.
  • Category 2. Construction of a safe, convenient, and intelligent society: opportunities in AI application scenarios shall be continuously explored in the fields of urban management, traffic management, ecological protection, medical health, education, and old-age care, with the goal of building a smarter city and more intimate society, and demonstration of intelligent social scenario application shall be carried out.
  • Category 3. High-level scientific research activities: Greater efforts shall be made to make AI technology become a new paradigm for solving major scientific problems in the fields of mathematics, chemistry, geosciences, materials, biology, and space science.
  • Category 4. Major national events and major projects: the application scenarios of AI shall be expanded in major events and conferences such as the Asian Games, National Games, China International Import Expo, and China International Fair for Trade in Services, thus providing testing and verification opportunities for AI technology and product applications. The use of AI technology in major construction projects such as strategic backbone passages, high-speed railroads, port and shipping facilities, and modern airport construction shall be encouraged to improve the construction efficiency of major projects.

Supply of the elements of AI scenario innovation

In order to promote the development of AI scene innovation, the Guidance puts forward policy encouragement opinions from various aspects of elements supply:

  • Computing power facilities: The opening and sharing of AI infrastructure resources such as computing power platforms, generic technology platforms, industry training data sets, and simulation training platforms shall be encouraged. Guidance also encourages local governments to reduce AI enterprises’ cost of infrastructure use. New technologies such as blockchain and privacy computing are adopted to provide open data services for typical AI application scenarios on the basis of ensuring data security. The security protection of the “data base” shall be strengthened, and personal information, trade secrets, and important industry data shall be protected according to the law.
  • Data resources: New technologies such as blockchain and privacy computing are adopted to provide open data services for typical AI application scenarios on the basis of ensuring data security.
  • Talents in scenario innovations: Universities and vocational colleges are encouraged to cultivate professional talents with innovative awareness and ability of AI scenarios through professional curriculum setting, training exchanges and other forms.
  • Market resources: Banking, insurance, and other financial institutions shall be encouraged to provide financial support. Large enterprises in the industry shall be encouraged to provide supply chain support for the implementation of scenario projects.

How could it be relevant for you?

For enterprises that develop and apply AI technology, the Guidance points out major application scenarios for AI, emphasises the importance of scenario innovation for the high-quality development of the national economy, and provides policy incentives for enterprises to carry out AI scenario innovation. In addition, it is recommended that enterprises keep a close eye on the legislative and enforcement developments of AI technology.

Next steps

In recent years, the Chinese government has continuously increased its support for the innovative development and application of AI at the policy level, and the centre of AI-related  policies has gradually shifted from strategic deployment to technological application, implementation and innovation.

Additionally, on 30 August 2022, the Regulations of Shanghai Municipality on Promoting the Development of Artificial Intelligence Industry (Draft) was released for public comments. The draft intends to promote the development of Shanghai’s AI industry by improving the management mechanism, and optimising the allocation of computing power, algorithms, data and other elements of resources. On September 6, the first special local legislation for the AI industry - the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Artificial Intelligence Industry Promotion Regulations (the “Shenzhen AI Regulations) was officially announced and will come into effect on 1 November 2022. The Shenzhen AI Regulations create an innovative product access system. Low-risk AI products and services that do not have national or local standards but meet international advanced product standards or specifications are allowed to be tested and piloted. It is expected that other local governments in China will follow the example of Shanghai and Shenzhen to issue local policy or legislation to introduce more specific measures to promote the development of the AI industry.

*Information is accurate up to 27 November 2023

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