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China Outlines Ambitions to Become World Leader in AI by 2025

By Denise Jia and Ye Zhanqi
China’s State Council unveiled a national development plan for artificial intelligence industries on Thursday, eyeing to boost the value of the country's core AI industries to 1 trillion yuan by 2030.
China’s State Council unveiled a national development plan for artificial intelligence industries on Thursday, eyeing to boost the value of the country's core AI industries to 1 trillion yuan by 2030.

(Beijing) — China unveiled a national development plan for artificial intelligence industries, outlining ambitions to become a world leader in AI by 2025.

China’s State Council said the AI industry will serve as a major new economic growth engine and will trigger expansion in related industries of more than 1 trillion yuan by 2020. An official blueprint issued Thursday called for the AI industry itself to generate annual revenue of more than 1 trillion yuan by 2030, an almost seven-fold increase in a decade.

The plan also pledged research into the impact of AI on employment and how to prepare the appropriate economic policy responses. Business leaders are already forecasting headcount reductions as AI technologies and applications expand. China will establish laws and policies governing AI industries by 2025, according to the plan.

The State Council called for using tax benefits and policy support to quickly build up a group of world-leading companies in self-driving cars, smart robots, wearable devices and virtual reality. It encouraged Chinese AI companies to go global through overseas mergers, acquisitions and equity investments.

The plan set a series of interim goals. China needs to match world leaders in AI technology and applications by 2020, when the value of its core AI industries to the economy should exceed 150 billion yuan. The plan doesn’t give a 2017 revenue estimate for the industry, but the 2020 goal would represent a 10-fold increase from this year’s 15.2 billion yuan, based on an estimate by iiMedia Research.

China expects to make major breakthroughs in AI theoretical research by 2025 and become a major center for AI innovation, technology and applications by 2030. The economic value of China’s core AI industries should top 400 billion yuan by 2025 on the way to the 2030 goal of 1 trillion yuan. By 2030, AI should drive the economic contribution of related industries to 10 trillion yuan a year, according to the plan.

Earlier this month, a top Chinese tech company's demo of its self-driving car technology caused controversy over traffic regulations. A video of Baidu CEO Robin Li cruising around Beijing in a self-driving vehicle prototype triggered a police investigation, saying it appeared to violate Chinese highway laws. Last year, Chinese authorities banned the testing of self-driving cars on public roads due to safety concerns

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