Human technology

Metaverse fever is high in China. Regulators are watching.

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A participant wears a virtual reality headset for a concert experience in the Metaverse.

Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

If China’s internet is any sign of how its metaverse will be walled off, expect a firm hand from the authorities, strict rules banning certain content, and plenty of fines and warnings when companies stray.

The Chinese internet is often referred to as intranet because it’s so censored that it looks like a completely separate web of fintech sites, apps, and offerings. It is strictly monitored by sophisticated technology and an army of thousands of human “disinfectants”.

The metaverse in general is considered a virtual world through which the Internet facilitates state-of-the-art interactive and computer-generated experiences. The concept has taken on such momentum – and the prospects are so lucrative – that


Facebook

renamed himself


Metaplatforms

(FB).

While


Goldman Sachs

estimated that the metaverse could be worth $8 billion worldwide once it begins to disrupt current technologies,


Morgan Stanley

said last month that the Chinese market alone would be worth as much.

Over the past few months, we’ve had a glimpse of what a Chinese metaverse could look like, with the latest coming this week.

The securities arm of the state-owned Bank of China recently released a document claiming that “the metaverse is a potential path to common prosperity, and the evolution of the organizational path related to the metaverse cannot be separated from the top of the government”.

That last statement is an obvious nod to Beijing’s top brass, but so is the phrase “common prosperity,” a sort of mantra that Chinese President Xi Jinping has touted to do several things, including giving a deterrent effect on too important people. corporations and individuals whose extravagant wealth seems to mock the “Communist” part of the Communist Party.

Thus, the Chinese metaverse must be a contributor to the common good, refrain from creating monopoly-level players, and be subject to the same strict control as other forms of digital media in the country.

According to the document, one of the ways to achieve this is to grant special power to the three major public telecommunications companies:


China-Mobile

(941.Hong Kong),


China Unicom

(762.Hong Kong), and


China Telecom

(728.Hong Kong). Dozens of Chinese media published the story.

In fact, quietly in October, the China Mobile Communications Association’s Metaverse Industry Committee was established in part to help screen companies related to the Metaverse. But the latest news confirms that the big telecoms will be big players, if not pilots, in the fledgling industry.

Moreover, the government’s adoption of the metaverse is both an incentive and a warning. Late last year, an influential government think tank released a report laying out all the possible evils technology could bring, from “youth corruption and addiction” to “tech hegemony.” In January, the National Intellectual Property Administration launched a series of metaverse trademark applications.

But recently, regulatory rhetoric has scared investors enough to cause the stock prices of some of China’s biggest players to plummet.

A metaverse-only think tank, the Yuanchuang Metaverse Research Institute, recently evaluated candidates for success in the emerging field, based on a number of metrics including technology, capital, and brand endorsements. The first six were


Tencent Holdings

(700.Hong Kong), telecom giant Huawei, e-commerce leader


Alibaba Holding Group

(BABA), research and AI specialist


Baidu

(BIDU), game and music company


NetEase

(NTES) and Tik-Tok developer ByteDance.

“The market sees the new prospects of possibilities. These technologies can be combined and merged to shape a new digital world, which could have a fundamental impact on existing digital life,” Li Zheng, a researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) think tank, recently told reporters. Chinese media.

New players are sure to emerge with meteoric rises, as the dynamics of Chinese companies are known. Time will tell how tight the government’s grip is on the sector.