China’s advantages in AI development give its economy a competitive edge
Published: Apr 25, 2024 10:59 PM
AI Photo:VCG

AI Photo:VCG

As an important engine for developing new quality productive forces, artificial intelligence (AI) is one of China's strategic emerging industries, making rapid progress in both development and application, constantly achieving breakthroughs. This is largely due to China's unique comprehensive advantages in AI development.

The AI development over the past few decades has experienced a sustained upward trend. Developing AI is not a sprint, but more like a marathon that tests innovative endurance.

China fully recognizes the importance of research in AI and has elevated it to a national strategic level.

In 2017, China published "Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan," which states that the overall goal is to make China's AI theory, technology, and applications reach the world's leading level by 2030, and become the main innovation center for AI in the world.

Over the past decade, China's AI has made rapid progress, and the gap in research output with the US has also been narrowing. According to the "2024 AI Index Report" released by Stanford University in the US, 61 percent of global AI patents originated from China in 2022. 

Admittedly, we need to recognize that there are still gaps between China and the US in some areas of AI. However, in the long run, with China continuously promoting technological innovation and deepening industrial upgrade, these gaps will not hold back the bright prospects of China's AI.

Compared with developed countries like the US, China has its own unique advantages in developing AI.

First, the commercial prospects of AI in China are more promising. China has the world's largest internet user base and is also the largest single consumer market in the world, with a vast potential demand for new technologies and products. This is the perfect catalyst for technology and products to achieve mass production and reach the masses.

Social platforms, shared bikes, mobile payments, among other application innovations in the era of mobile internet in China have generated unique value for the global economy. In subfields of AI such as algorithm recommendation, facial recognition, Chinese companies are also at the forefront of the world. With these successful experiences, we have every reason to believe that Chinese technology companies will be able to better commercialize AI in the future, create more innovative application scenarios, and create a more diverse range of intelligent products.

Second, China's comprehensive manufacturing economy allows AI to better integrate with other industries, achieving synergistic innovation and development. China has a complete and large-scale manufacturing industrial system, and these industries have a strong demand for digital intelligence upgrades.

AI can empower industrial development and create huge application space, further improving the efficiency of various industries in China. This will lead to the formation of new quality productive forces that is more adaptable and competitive in the global competition of the future. As AI becomes deeply embedded in industrial development, its applications in China will become more specific, feasible, and standardized.

Third, China also has unique advantages in its AI talent pool. The talent dividend brought by China's AI talent training and education system is gradually being realized. "The Global AI Talent Tracker 2.0" released by a US think tank last month shows that in 2022, China cultivated 47 percent of the world's top AI researchers.

The advantage of Chinese AI is poised to evolve and encompass talent and technology dividends. The unlocking of this talent dividend has the potential to catalyze a significant shift in the trajectory of Chinese AI development.

Fourth, China's advantages in the field of new energy will also provide a stronger foundation for the development of AI. The AI industry is a significant consumer of electricity, making it a competition not only of computing power, algorithms, and data volume between countries, but also a competition of basic energy resources and efficiency. The country that can achieve efficient and continuous supply of energy will provide better infrastructure for the development of AI, and promote better development of AI.

Undoubtedly, China has the world's leading power infrastructure, and its development layout for new energy is the most determined. The technology accumulation and manufacturing level in the fields of photovoltaics and energy storage are also impressive, and will more effectively ensure the great development of AI in the future.

The author is a financial commentator.