Local governments in China focus on digital technology to drive growth – OpenGov Asia


Over the past few weeks, leaders of China’s provincial regions have held their annual legislative and political consultative meetings, called “two sessions.” Economic data from the meetings revealed that various parts of China have steadily recovered from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What many of these provincial leaders are realizing is that high-tech industries have played an increasingly important role in driving these economic growths. As a result, Chinese local governments place high hopes in the development of new sectors such as AI and quantum information.

For example, Hubei province’s gross domestic product (GDP) reached 5 trillion yuan ($789 billion) last year, a new high for the province once hard hit by the epidemic. Describing the year as “extraordinary and uplifting”, Hubei Governor Wang Zhonglin said it was a year full of achievements in post-pandemic recovery.

Another example is the GDP of Guangdong, a city in southern China’s Guangdong Province, which surpassed one trillion yuan ($158 billion) in 2021. Guangdong now has four cities in the “club of trillion yuan”. The province’s own GDP exceeded 12 trillion yuan ($1.89 trillion) for the first time, leading all provincial-level regions.

Seeing how they have played a key role in their growth, local governments are now determined to further develop emerging technologies.

The Beijing municipal government aims to launch 20 major application scenarios to promote the formation of industrial clusters responding to blockchain, artificial intelligence, extended reality and ultra-high-definition display.

Zhejiang Province in eastern China is expected to promote the development of future industries such as brain intelligence and quantum information. Additionally, the province already known for its strong digital economy will strive to increase the added value of digital economy core industries by up to 12%.

Moreover, the development of a digital economy has also been seen as a transformational force, enhancing existing traditional industries.

Chongqing Municipality in southwest China plans to accelerate the intelligent transformation of production equipment and key industrial chains. It plans to cultivate 10 new smart factories and 100 digital workshops.

Many advanced technologies and new concepts were discussed. The Metaverse, however, has become one of the most widely mentioned in discussions by local lawmakers and policy advisors.

“The concept of metaverse can be regarded as the comprehensive development and innovative extension of the digital economy,” said Tong Zhilei, deputy of the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress.

Without wasting time, some regions are already setting things in motion. Hefei, capital of East China’s Anhui Province, plans to develop a group of leading enterprises in pioneering industries such as metaverse over the next five years. For its province, Wuhan, capital of Hubei, aims to build a national pilot area on next-generation AI through the integration of metaverse, big data, cloud computing and blockchain with the real economy.

Chinese local governments are recovering from the pandemic. And digital technology is playing a major role in their predicted growth. The numbers speak for themselves. As local and national leaders turn to emerging technologies, the country’s economy is booming, producing healthier numbers than before when the COVID-19 outbreak was in full swing.

Recently, as reported on OpenGov Asia, a new state-backed 5G operator is expected to open cell phone registration this year, a telltale sign of growth in the digital realm. This should allow more and more people to enjoy the benefits of digital technology.


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