China’s Major Cities are Embracing the Metaverse
There is a clear objective across some major cities in China towards the adoption of the Metaverse. Down to the grassroots, local governments are taking the initiative and launching into the emerging tech space mainly for economic development. These efforts are shooting China into the forefront in the race towards Metaverse development, just like the early days of cryptocurrencies.
A minimum of 10 Chinese cities and provinces have so far raised policies to include the Metaverse in their developmental plans. Some of them that aren’t directly involved in Metaverse development are entering into or negotiating different forms of partnerships with Metaverse companies. Prominent among the cities involved in this movement are Shanghai and Beijing. This is as a result of their political influence in the country, and how their participation could signal an endorsement by the state.
A Metaverse government project is already open to the public in Shanghai. The project, called “the Metaverse city hall” is a collaborative project between the local government of Fengxian and a Shanghai-based digital entertainment company, Fengyuzhu, which now calls itself “the Metaverse contractor.
The Metaverse city hall is a virtual replica of an existing structure, a performing center in the Fengxian district. The building was designed by a French architect and was completed in 2019. The 3D replica of this structure will be launched on Xirang, a domestic Metaverse platform.
A spokesperson of Fengyuzhu, the contracting company, explained that the project is suitable for the current realities of human existence. Restrictions in physical interaction as a result of the pandemic keep denying the people certain life experiences. The Metaverse concept will solve this problem and the Chinese government is acting fast in this direction.
In December 2021, Shanghai Party Secretary, Li Qiang stated that the Shanghai government will encourage the development of the Metaverse, which he described as “important platforms where the virtual world and the real world will interact.” Since Li’s statement, other major Chinese cities and local governments have come up with papers and policies that point towards unprecedented interests in Metaverse development.
In Beijing, economic development officials have made it clear that the city is organizing a “consortium of metaverse innovations” while building a “metaverse industry cluster. On its account, Zhejiang has pledged to unfold a development blueprint that prioritizes the Metaverse. This blueprint is said to extend to other areas such as artificial intelligence, semiconductors, and space technology.
Understandably, most of the policy documents released did not expressly include the term Metaverse. This is attributed to the controversies still surrounding emerging technologies like cryptocurrency in China. Even tech companies involved in other sectors like NFTs have been observed to rebrand their products, and in most cases adopt the term “digital collectibles”.
China’s Metaverse market is estimated to be worth about $8 trillion. This is a significant amount and would provide unquantifiable opportunities in the global tech industry is explored. The Chinese government is organizing seminars and inviting companies that specialize in blockchain development and digital arts. While at this, respective districts and local governments are already toeing the line of Fengxian. Two other cities, Deqing and Zhangjiajie have already contacted Fengyuzhu to come up with plans on how to move local industries to the Metaverse.