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China’s Metaverse Alliance: Hopes to Set Up Industrial Standards For Web3 Sector 

Last Updated January 19, 2024 5:18 PM
James Morales
Last Updated January 19, 2024 5:18 PM

Key Takeaways

  • The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is promoting Metaverse and Web3 technologies.
  • In a bid to cultivate the country’s Metaverse and Web3 sectors, the MIIT is working with industry to develop new standards.
  • China’s Big Tech firms have embraced both concepts in recent years.

Last month, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced  its intention to develop new Web3 industry standards. Now, it has formed  a working group consisting of the major Chinese technology firms to do the same for the Metaverse sector.

But why is the ministry so eager to embrace Big Tech buzzwords? And what could it mean for Ant Group, Tencent, and other digital giants in the country?

Chinese Government Back Web3 and Metaverse Sectors

Despite being anti-cryptocurrency, the Chinese government has big plans for the country’s Web3 sector and has thrown its weight behind alternative blockchain-based technologies like NFTs and Decentralized Identity (DID) management systems.

Meanwhile, an MIIT-led alliance bringing together companies including Huawei, Ant Group, Tencent and Baidu has been dubbed the “metaverse standardization working group.”

These efforts to establish common standards and a shared vocabulary acknowledge that both terms point to important technology trends, but that neither is well defined.

In both Chinese and English, “Web3” generally refers to digital media that deploy decentralized information and communication structures like blockchains and IPFS. But beyond that basic definition, the concept can be vague.

Likewise, a “metaverse” is commonly understood as some kind of immersive virtual world, yet in popular usage, there is little agreement on exactly what counts as a metaverse. Some of the most frequently cited examples include open-universe, multiplayer games like Fortnite and Roblox. But the term has often been used more generally as a synonym for Virtual Reality (VR), often to describe marketing initiatives and publicity stunts that have little to do with world-building or digital societies.

Where the 2 concepts overlap, platforms like Decentraland enact new cyber realms where digital avatars interact in decentralized Web3 economies.

Recognizing that one can support the other, MIIT said that as an idea, metaverse “involves blockchain, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and other multimedia fields.” It predicted that in the future these technologies will be applied to a range of possible scenarios across various smart homes, cars, and factories.

However, it noted that “the technical boundary is fuzzy,” adding that there is an “urgent need” for more standardized definitions.

Chinese Big Tech in the Metaverse

To varying degrees, the Big Tech companies invited to join MIIT’s new metaverse alliance have all started exploring the field.

With its expertise in mobile internet and telecommunication networks, Huawei has researched  how emerging metaverse platforms are set to shape the world’s digital infrastructure, increasing the demand for high-speed, low-latency internet access and accelerating the development of headsets and other post-screen, wearable interfaces.

Likewise, Tencent has also moved to prepare for a world in which smartphones and laptops are less dominant, striking a deal  to sell Meta’s Virtual Reality (VR) headset in China even as it scrapped  plans to develop VR hardware in-house. Ant Group member Ali Baba has frequently applied  virtual and augmented reality to create immersive shopping experiences for the Chinese market and beyond.

In the Web3 space, Ant Group, Huawei and Baidu have all developed their own blockchains, promoting the technology as a supply chain management solution for various industries. As these technologies continue to evolve, Chinese firms are well-positioned to lead the country into a new era of Web3 metaverse development.

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