Localities make AI development plans, underscoring nation’s systemic advantage
Published: Mar 17, 2024 09:16 PM
AI Photo:VCG

AI Photo:VCG

A number of Chinese localities have set out detailed plans to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technology and relevant ecosystems this year, a move that observers said shows that China is leveraging its "whole-nation" system advantage to fast track the technology's development amid a white-hot global race.

It also comes as the Government Work Report launched the AI Plus Initiative, while highlighting efforts to develop new quality productive forces for the first time.

Qingdao, a city in East China's Shandong Province, plans to build itself into a highland in AI hashrate and algorithm applications. 

According to the plan, the city aims to create 20 influential leading AI firms, about 30 AI innovative platforms, more than 100 AI application demonstration zones and seven AI hashrate centers to "further improve the local AI-related ecosystem," the Xinhua News Agency reported.

In mid-March, the Industry and Information Technology Bureau in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, which is also known as China's "Silicon Valley," issued an action plan to accelerate the development of new quality productive forces. 

The plan draws up 20 "strategically newly emerging industry clusters," including AI, and it vows to support their growth "with extraordinary strength and the city's whole resources." 

The Shenzhen authorities have released two lists on the application of AI technology in a combined 41 urban scenarios, including digital, culture and public services, the Xinhua report noted.

In February, Wang Zhonglin, governor of Central China's Hubei Province, pledged at an AI-themed meeting that the province will speed up the technology's development with "extraordinary measures" and "a stronger sense of urgency, mission and responsibility," said another Xinhua report.

Wang took note of Hubei's technological edges in several fronts, including innovation prowess, a solid industrial base and abundant applications, which he believes could reinforce the city's role in AI development.

With the recent market hit text-to-video AI model Sora and AI chatbot ChatGTP, some Chinese cities could embrace the opportunities brought by AI large language models' revolutionary tide and make this core to their development plans.

Liu Jie, Party chief of Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, mentioned Sora twice at the city officials' first meeting in February, stressing that the city - which is home to a number of technology companies such as Alibaba and NetEase - should innovate and seize the opportunity in the new round of AI development, news website reported.

Liu suggested measures to shore up hashrate development, including launching "hashrate vouchers" that bring down the cost, creating more conditions for developing universal AI large language models as well as vertical and specialized AI large language models, the report said.

Observers said that those efforts underscore that China has been spearheading a top-down effort that could help itself quickly climb up the tech ladder and close gaps with certain foreign peers. One of China's biggest advantages in the AI sector lies in the country's system advantage, which makes it more efficient in mobilizing and deploying relevant resources in technological research and development, they stressed.

Zhou Hongyi, founder and chairman of 360 Security Technology, voiced confidence that Chinese firms could narrow the gap with the US industry within one or two years, due to China's strong advantage in rapid learning capabilities. 

He told the Global Times that 2024 may become the "year of application" for China in the field of AI.

In late February, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council held a meeting on promoting the reform of State-owned enterprises (SOEs), stressing the importance of pushing forward the transformation and upgrading of central SOEs through technological empowerment, including AI.