SOEs ramp up AI deployment as government calls for industry upgrades
Published: Feb 28, 2024 11:18 PM
AI Photo: VCG

AI Photo: VCG

Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are giving full play to the main role of central SOEs in strengthening the development of artificial intelligence (AI) in response to the central government's call, the Global Times learned from companies and experts.

The move reflects the government's and industry players' determination to promote the advance of AI technologies in order to achieve an industrial transformation and upgrading, experts said.

In a recent statement sent to the Global Times, China Telecom, one of the major telecommunications operators of China, said the company gives full play to the main role of central SOEs and reinforces its strength in driving technological innovations.

The company has led the way after it released the 100 billion parameter Xingchen large language model in 2023, with more than 10,000 daily active users. The operator said it had made Xingchen open source at the end of January, a move that will allow for easier and broader collaboration.

"By doing so, we will broadly empower more users to engage in AI advances, injecting vitality into the AI industry," the company told the Global Times, adding that it has served more than 1 million users nationwide.

China Mobile, another telecommunications operator, is building Asia's largest intelligent computing center, which is scheduled to open this year, according to media reports.

The Chinese government has ramped up the promotion of AI development among SOEs. On Monday, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) held a meeting on promoting the reform of SOEs, stressing the importance of pushing forward the transformation and upgrading of central SOEs through technological empowerment, including AI.

The SASAC held a meeting on February 19 calling on central SOEs to accelerate the layout and development of the AI industry, actively promote industrial renewal and achieve better growth.

SASAC Chairman Zhang Yuzhuo emphasized at the meeting the need to promote central SOEs to achieve better growth and play a greater role in the field of AI.

The meeting was attended by representatives of SOEs in various industries, including telecommunication and information, manufacturing, transportation and energy, as well as high-tech firms such as iFLYTEK, according to media reports.

The SASAC also vowed to accelerate the construction of a new batch of intelligent computing centers and better leverage the role of the platform for collaborative innovation among SOEs.

Market analysts said that recent intensified efforts by the SASAC and enterprises underscored the country's determination and resolve to promote advances in AI technologies among SOEs to achieve transformation and upgrading, enhance competitiveness, and achieve other goals.

Li Jin, chief researcher at the China Enterprise Research Institute in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the meetings can be seen as the "first shot fired" in AI deployment, and it is likely to propel a new wave of industrialization for SOEs.

China has its own advantages in the field of AI, Li said, noting that with strong policy support, a huge population, strong data collection and capabilities and innovation, China's AI development will surely reach the world's advanced level in the next decade.

According to data released by the SASAC, SOEs completed 2.18 trillion yuan ($302.8 billion) of investment in strategic emerging industries in 2023, up 32.1 percent year-on-year.

"AI is growing rapidly, and central SOEs should become key players on the 'national team,' in embracing AI technology, in the face of a new round of industrial revolution," said Li.