China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has taken a significant step towards shaping the future of the metaverse sector by convening a team of 60 experts, comprising representatives from major technology companies, educational institutions, and government officials. This move aligns with China’s ambitions to set industry standards, foster ethical development, and tackle security challenges in the rapidly evolving metaverse landscape.
China’s Metaverse Standards Working Group Composition:
The newly formed working group, announced by the MIIT, includes experts from renowned technology firms such as Huawei Technologies, Tencent Holdings, NetEase, Baidu, Ant Group, and Lenovo Group. Notably, Ant Group is an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding. Additionally, the team features MIIT officials and researchers from esteemed academic institutions like Peking University and Fudan University.
MIIT’s Vision for the Metaverse Sector:
The MIIT, recognizing the metaverse’s increasing prominence and potential challenges, proposed the creation of the working group in September. The primary objectives outlined for the group include establishing and maintaining a robust system of metaverse industry standards, promoting these standards, and contributing to talent development within the sector. Emphasizing a global perspective, the group is tasked with encouraging local entities to actively participate in international standard-setting initiatives.
Global Trends and China’s Aspirations:
The term “metaverse,” loosely defined as a virtual three-dimensional world, has gained traction globally. Notably, major players like Facebook, now Meta Platforms, have embraced the concept as the next frontier for the internet. In 2022, Meta, Microsoft, and others founded the Metaverse Standards Forum, a collaborative effort that includes prominent Chinese tech giants like Huawei and Tencent.
China’s Leadership Aspirations in the Metaverse:
China aims to position itself as a leader in the burgeoning metaverse industry. Last year, five authorities, including the MIIT, jointly released a plan to nurture at least three metaverse companies with global influence by 2025. This underscores the country’s commitment to fostering innovation and competitiveness in the metaverse sector.
Regional Initiatives and Funding Support:
Several local governments in China have prioritized the development of the metaverse sector. Beijing’s Tongzhou district, considered a sub-centre, has set ambitious goals to incorporate over 100 metaverse-related firms by the end of the year. Shanghai, too, has unveiled plans to establish government-backed and private funds dedicated to metaverse development. The first fund, initiated in late 2022, successfully raised an initial sum of 1 billion yuan ($140 million).
China’s establishment of the metaverse standards working group demonstrates its proactive approach to shaping the future of this rapidly evolving sector. With representation from leading technology companies and academic institutions, the group is well-positioned to contribute to the formulation of industry standards, ensuring ethical development, and addressing security challenges. As China strives to become a global leader in the metaverse, these strategic initiatives underscore the country’s commitment to innovation and competitiveness in this transformative space.