Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
An MWC Barcelona attendee wears an Oculus virtual reality headset during a demonstration of the metaverse on the Accenture Plc stand in Barcelona, Spain, on March 1, 2022. Photo: Bloomberg

‘Two sessions’ 2022: the metaverse development should be spearheaded by the central government, delegates propose

  • NPC and CPPCC delegates have proposed the state take a central role in developing the metaverse to guard against social and financial risks
  • State media have previously warned about hype surrounding the metaverse, making it an unlikely topic for China’s largest annual political gathering
The metaverse has emerged as an unlikely topic at China’s “two sessions”, the country’s largest annual gathering of lawmakers and top political consultants, after state media spent months warning of risks associated with hype around the concept.

A number of delegates have published their metaverse proposals for the gatherings of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), sharing their views on how China should embrace and regulate the metaverse. It signalled an increasing interest in the concept of a shared, immersive virtual space that some consider to be the next evolution of the internet.

The metaverse did not get a mention from either Chinese Premier Li Keqiang or the NPC’s government work report on Saturday. But the proposals from delegates reflect a broader interest across the technology sector. Many businesses have rushed to capitalise on the concept, with the number of related trademark applications doubling to 16,000 in the first two months of the year.

China’s metaverse trademark applications surpass 16,000

After recent government warnings, delegates were sure to emphasise the state’s central role in their proposals.

Liu Wei, a CPPCC delegate and president of the Guangzhou-based artificial intelligence services company PCI Technology Group, said the central government should lead the development of and applications for the metaverse.

“The government should lead the creation of the ‘Chinese metaverse’ digital economy, which can result in a new social relationship platform that merges both the virtual and physical worlds,” he said in comments published by state media. Li added that the metaverse could also help digitise Covid-battered industries such as tourism and aid in China’s roll-out of the digital yuan.

Kong Falong, an NPC delegate and party official from the Rural Credit Cooperatives of southern Jiangxi province, said Beijing should set up a national metaverse research and development centre that focuses on relevant technologies, including integrated circuits and blockchain, according to his proposal published by state media. The country that can seize the metaverse high ground is more likely to be a world leader in the digital economy, Kong said.

He also called for establishing industry standards so that boundaries can be set, adding that the development of applications for areas such as agriculture, smart cities, and culture and tourism should be accompanied by forward-looking legal research that covers the ethical use of such technologies.


Tech companies in China chase metaverse opportunities in immersive virtual online world

Tech companies in China chase metaverse opportunities in immersive virtual online world

The delegates’ concerns have been echoed by a representative from China’s Zhi Gong minority party. Liang Wei, a CPPCC delegate, said the metaverse should be developed under the principle of a “single, centrally governed internet”.

The metaverse presents systemic risks involving data security, legal governance, the overhyping of blockchain, social ethics and technology, Liang said. “Legislation should be strengthened to build and perfect the legal compliance of smart contracts and transactions involving digital property, and focus on preventing legal and ethical issues that arise from the metaverse.” he added.

Tencent CEO Ma Huateng, who is also an NPC delegate, similarly warned that the meteoric rise of the metaverse, non-fungible tokens and Web3 have brought new risks to finance, technology and social governance at a time when the virtual and physical worlds are merging, according to his published proposals.