China’s tech industry has been hit hard by US trade battles and the economic uncertainties of the pandemic, but it’s eager to bounce back in the relatively near future. According to the Wall Street Journal, the country used its annual party meeting to outline a five-year plan for advancing technology that aids “national security and overall development.” It will create labs, foster educational programs and otherwise boost research in fields like AI, biotech, semiconductors and quantum computing.
The Chinese government added that it would increase spending on basic research (that is, studies of potential breakthroughs) by 10.6 percent in 2021, and would create a 10-year research strategy.
China has a number of technological advantages, such as its 5G availability and the sheer volume of AI research it produces. This is one of the few countries where completely driverless taxis are serving real customers. In that light, the country is really cementing some of its strong points.
However, this may also be a matter of survival. US trade restrictions have hobbled companies like Huawei and ZTE, in part due to a lack of cutting-edge chip manufacturing. The US also leads in overall research, and the Biden administration is boosting spending on advancements for 5G, AI and electric cars. As experienced as China is in some areas, it risks slipping behind if it doesn’t counter the latest American efforts.