AI Policy – China

In March 2018, Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang told a press conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress that China will soon publish a guideline and detailed regulations for AI. He explained that these would address problems in security, health, environmental protection, social ethics, job structure, personal privacy, and national security. TAs far as we are aware, these have not yet been published, but we will add links here as they become publicly available.

In July 2017, The State Council of China released the “New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan” (新一代人工智能发展规划). This policy outlines China’s strategy to build a domestic AI industry worth nearly US$150 billion in the next few years and to become the leading AI power by 2030. This officially marked the development of the AI sector as a national priority and it was included in President Xi Jinping’s grand vision for China. Although this was the first time AI was specifically mentioned in a Communist Party of China work report, the sentiment is seen more broadly as a continuation of the 13th Five-Year Plan and the state-driven industrial plan “Made in China 2025”.

According to a July 2017 article in The New York Times, a timeline in the new policy explains how “the government expects its companies and research facilities to be at the same level as leading countries like the United States by 2020. Five years later, it calls for breakthroughs in select disciplines within A.I. that will become ‘a key impetus for economic transformation.’ In the final stage, by 2030, China will ‘become the world’s premier artificial intelligence innovation center,’ which in turn will ‘foster a new national leadership and establish the key fundamentals for an economic great power.’

The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) as well as a new office called the AI Plan Promotion Office are responsible for the implementation and coordination of the emergent AI-related projects, which are driven primarily by government-led subsidies. An AI Strategy Advisory Committee was also established in November 2017 to conduct research on strategic issues related to AI and to make recommendations. This is headed by Pan Yunhe, an academic in advanced manufacturing at the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), who is also deputy chairman of the China Association for Artificial Intelligence (CAAI). Additionally, an AI Industry Development Alliance was established, which is co-sponsored by more than 200 enterprises and agencies nationwide and focuses on building a public service platform for the development of China’s AI industry with which to integrate resources and accelerate growth.

Back in 2016, the Chinese Three-Year Guidance for Internet Plus Artificial Intelligence Plan (2016-2018) indicated the intention to make AI a strong driving force in socioeconomic development. The Three-Year Action Plan for Promoting Development of a New Generation Artificial Intelligence Industry (2018–2020) reinforced this goal. These three-year plans are more oriented towards providing immediate guidelines to industry and other actors. The latest plan outlines four major tasks for this time period, including the creation of targets for the development of “smart products” like networked vehicles, intelligent service robots, and video image identification systems; achieving breakthroughs in “core foundations” like neural network chips; fostering the development of “intelligent manufacturing”; and building a public support system, for instance, by accelerating the development of an “intelligent next-generation internet”. This work will be overseen by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

There are also local government AI policy initiatives throughout China. For example, the Shanghai government issued its own implementation plan for new generation AI in November 2017; Beijing announced a major new AI-focused industrial park to be constructed in Mentougou District in January 2018; Guangzhou launched an International Institute of AI; and many other districts have promised funds for AI research.

 

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