Chinese President Xi Jinping wants the country to concentrate on integrated circuits, displays, communications equipment and intelligent hardware, as he called on Saturday, for a shift of focus in on key areas in an essay in the ruling Communist Party’s publication Qiushi.
“China should cultivate a number of enterprises with international competitiveness, and leading ecological firms with control over industrial chains, to create world-class digital industry clusters,” he said.
“We must see that compared with large and powerful countries in the global digital economy, China’s digital economy is big but not strong, and fast but not superior.”
“In the course of rapid development, China’s digital economy has also displayed some unhealthy and irregular seeds and trends that not only affect the healthy development of the digital economy, but violate laws and regulations and pose a threat to national economic and financial security,” he said.
Aiming to increase the sector’s share of national GDP by pushing technologies like 6G and big data centres, China’s cabinet had issued a plan on Wednesday for the development of the digital economy.
Chinese regulators have cracked down on technology companies, seeking to curb their influence and address complaints that some companies misuse data and engage in other tactics that hurt consumers’ interests.
Foreign technology firms have been pulling out or downsizing their operations in mainland China as a strict data privacy law specifying how companies collect and store data takes effect.
The downsizing and departures also come as US and China tussle over technology and trade. Washington has imposed restrictions on telecoms equipment giant Huawei and other Chinese tech companies, alleging they have ties with China’s military and government.
Chinese alternatives have popped up over the years to fill the void left by foreign social media platforms that have given up operating under the Great Firewall.
Instead of Google, China’s most popular search engine is Baidu. Messaging apps like WeChat are used instead of WhatsApp or Messenger. Weibo, a microblogging platform, is the closest equivalent to Twitter, with more than 560 million Chinese users.
Unless they use a virtual private network (VPN) to mask their internet traffic and location and circumvent the web restrictions Chinese have fewer options for social networking and access to content and are likely to turn to strictly censored local alternatives.