China forms grand plan to digitalise and connect the country’s cultural resources into a central database by 2025
- China plans to connect existing cultural databases and link the country’s current cable TV and broadcasting networks together
- Analysts say the database could offer cultural protection by managing and storing cultural resources from all levels of government
China has a grand plan to digitalise and connect the country’s cultural resources, from libraries to television channels, into a massive “digital culture infrastructure and platform” by 2025.
According to the newly published national strategy on “cultural digitalisation” by the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council, the country will build a “national culture big data system” by 2035 to allow digitalised cultural products to be “shared by all people”.
Under the broad plan, China will connect existing cultural databases and link the country’s current cable TV and broadcasting networks into a “national special culture network”.
Other market players will be encouraged to put their services on the “culture network”, according to a summary of the plan published on the Chinese government’s website over the weekend.
While China has erected a Great Firewall to keep foreign cultural services such as Google and Netflix out of the country, the government’s latest campaign shows its ambition to have centralised control of themed - cultural - data, according to analysts.
“The key issue is the drive towards centralisation of themed data,” said Kendra Schaefer, a partner and head of tech policy research at Beijing-based consultancy Trivium China. “It has become very clear to Beijing that underutilising data is the same thing as leaving money on the table, and there is a clear understanding that the more data you have centralised in one place, the more you can do with it.”
The planned database could offer a set of values from a cultural development perspective through the process of “collecting, processing, storing and distribution [of data]” that is mentioned in the document, according to Liao Xuhua, a senior analyst at research firm Analysys.
“The database can offer cultural protection by managing and storing cultural resources from all levels of government,” said Liao. “It can drive culture research and innovation by inviting participation from various stakeholders such as cultural institutions, tech companies, science institutions and ministries.”
One of the main tasks from a government point of view is to consolidate the nation’s cultural digital infrastructure with existing cable TV network facilities, radio and television 5G mobile networks and interconnection platforms to form a designated national cultural network, said Liao, and China would likely support “cultural enterprises” going public.
Although it is unclear what Beijing’s concrete vision is for a cultural database by 2025, the final system will likely function as more than a national archive, said Schaefer.
“[One of the main] issues here is, for example, how can start-ups use the [cultural] data, and how can we encourage companies to create products based on the data?” said Schaefer.