Like Uber, for socialism: Chinese leader calls for more use of AI, big data and sharing economy

Leader Xi Jinping also wants to crimp 'erroneous viewpoints' with more net censorship

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has outlined the nation's technological ambitions in his opening address to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The Congress is staged every five years and commences with an address from the leader, in which he (always he, so far) outlines past accomplishments, gives official endorsement to previously-announced policies and hints at future directions.

Xi Jinping's speech, delivered yesterday, ran for 205 minutes and saw him tie the nation's economic future to technology, with the following sentence:

We need to speed up building China into a strong country with advanced manufacturing, pushing for deep integration between the real economy and advanced technologies including internet, big data, and artificial intelligence

Technology also got a mention when Xi discussed China's military, as follows:

By the year 2020, military mechanization will be basically achieved, with IT application coming a long way and strategic capabilities seeing a big improvement. The modernization of the national defense and armed forces should be basically completed by 2035. The people’s armed forces will be transformed into world-class military by the mid-21st century.

Xi's speech also touched on the internet, which he said will continue to be censored in order to “clearly oppose and resist the whole range of erroneous viewpoints”. That phrase ties to another major theme of his speech, namely the the need to control corruption in all its forms.

Xis' speech largely confirms previously-announced plans. China's already outlined a plan to go large with AI research, giving itself a target to become an “innovation centre” by 2030. The nation also has an “Internet Plus” plan covering e-government and economic development efforts. And in 2016 premier Li Keqiang outlined a plan to put big data at the heart of government modernisation plans.

That Xi mentioned these initiatives therefore re-enforces their importance to future Chinese policy.

The speech styled China as a “moderately prosperous society” and outlined a 15-year plan to commence in 2020 “to see that socialist modernization is basically realized.” Next will come a further 15-year plan to “develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.” ®


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