The deadline for China’s hi-tech plans is getting close but three technology trends are already leading the country towards building a wholly “Networked Society”
Although 2020 represents one of China’s deadlines for what concerns technological evolution, the technology trends leading the country’s transformation towards a wholly “Networked Society” are already visible today. In a few years, the daily life of every Chinese will be transformed by new technologies while the country is paving the way to become the first smart nation.
The current year’s tech developments already reveal how Chinese companies are leading the way in innovation for many technologies, such as 5G. But 5G is not the only technology the international eye should have on its radar.
So what are those evolving technologies that deserve special attention? In addition to 5G, blockchain and autonomous driving are those tech trends that will surely impact people’s everyday lives both in China and on a global scale in the next two to three years.
1. 5G Technology: going towards a wholly “Networked Society”
From smart cities to digital health and self-driving vehicles, everything is going to be powered by 5G network technology soon. 5G is going to change the way we work, live, and interact with people, cities, and machines by connecting objects, which were not thought to be connected until today, making them respond to human actions thanks to faster speeds, larger data capacity, and lower latency.
Therefore, it is not just a matter of fast internet browsing but 5G will rather satisfy new and more complex usage scenario. But above all, the 5G will build a completely different environment made of automated guided vehicles, digitalized road infrastructures, smart homes in smart cities, IoT and of all those new technologies only possible through a constant high-band coverage.
We can say that 2020 will be the year of the wireless revolution while 2019 represents a first step in the IoT world towards a wholly “Networked Society”.
Today, in the Middle Kingdom, the three major mobile operators – China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom – have already deployed large-scale 5G test networks in various cities. Even the newly constructed 34-mile long Hong Kong-Macao bridge is going to host 5G network soon thanks to the Chinese telecommunication equipment company Zte.
The basis for a structured plan of development was laid when the Made in China 2025 plan was announced in 2013. However, it was the 13th Five-Year Plan launched in 2016 that proposed for the first time that China should promote and develop 5G technology.
China is currently testing 5G in all major cities, provinces, and regions, including Shanghai that will achieve full 5G coverage by 2020. Investments will continue to grow during the upcoming years so much so that the Dragon’s expense in 5G is expected to reach $223 billion between 2019 and 2025.
According to Chinese technological development program, the whole national 5G mobile network coverage is planned to be reached by 2023. And by that year, of the world’s one billion 5G users expected, more than 50% of all the 5G connections are estimated to be located in the PRC.
2. Blockchain: securing the data flow
Along with the rapid digitization of various industries, the blockchain technology will expedite the restructuring and optimization of trusted data flow across participants to boost the efficiency of workflow and coordination.
In the near future, more and more blockchain applications will be seen in our daily life, such as cross-border remittances, supply-chain financing, electronic invoices, and tamper-proof judicial records. As the value of “chaining” becomes more recognized, layered architecture and cross-chain protocol will become the focus of technology to scale up blockchain infrastructure.
In 2017, China applied for 225 blockchain patents, more than two and a half times the United State’s 91 patent applications in the same year. But despite blockchain disrupting virtually every industry in China, the path to regulating this new technology has been full of unforeseen turns.
Since 2017, China has maintained a tight grip on the nascent industry, repressing cryptocurrency. But the People’s Republic is now ready to overcome one of the main obstacles that are slowing down the spread of blockchain technology, that of security.
In order to reassure both the Government and Chinese people while guaranteeing transparency, the Cyberspace Administration of China will closely monitor the country’s blockchain projects.
The Dragon not only established a security alliance during the first China Blockchain Summit held in Beijing on June 2018 but Changsha, the capital of the province of Hunan, has also signed an agreement with the Emergency Coordination Centre of the national IT network to begin the security tests for the blockchain. The Changsha County, moreover, is not new to issues of this kind, having opened the first industrial blockchain park in August 2018.
One of these projects is led by Wanxiang, a Chinese manufacturer of automotive components, which is developing data infrastructure with the aim to develop a smart city project in Hangzhou, nicknamed “Wanxiang Innova City.” Innova City should be completed by 2025 and it will be one of the largest smart blockchain cities in the PRC.
The idea is to use blockchain technology to track, transfer and protect sensitive data collected from residents’ identification cards, intelligent equipment, and other devices. One of the use cases of the blockchain solution is also the monitoring of driving behavior and the use of data to develop autonomous driving systems.
Today, the Middle Kingdom accounts for 25% of new blockchain projects worldwide with 263 China-based projects in progress. The 615 blockchain companies in the country include Chinese internet giants such as Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, which have now started their own blockchain projects.
3. Autonomous Driving: leading the mobility revolution
China is taking the autonomous driving lead, with Chinese Internet giant Baidu surpassing Google in the self-driving market, a business that promises to be worth $500 billion by 2030.
Researches show that in the coming years, China will be the main market for the autonomous vehicle industry, especially in the transport services sector, which is expected to represent 55% of the entire market in 2040. According to experts, in the Middle Kingdom, the spread of self-driving vehicles could gradually start in 2023, reaching full development in 2032, with strong penetration in the entire market and reaching profits of over $60 billion.
In 2017, Beijing was the first city in China to allow self-driving tests on public roads. And now Chinese push toward the driverless guide is going so far that even foreign companies have decided to start carrying out operations in the Celestial Empire to test their technology such as Waymo and Tesla.
By the end of the year, self-driving taxis is going to be a reality in the Dragon. Thanks to the cooperation between the city authorities and the giant of the AI sector Baidu, Changsha will turn into a model city for autonomous driving.
The world’s leading ridesharing platform Didi Chuxing has already signed 12 partnerships with many car manufacturers to build a whole fleet of “robot taxis” for ride-hailing services without drivers while Chongqing has already opened the first 5G-enabled pilot area in China to test autonomous vehicles.
In recent years, Baidu has made large investments in the field of self-driving vehicles. In addition to self-driving buses put into service in cities like Beijing, Xiongan, Shenzhen, and Tokyo in Japan too, in 2017, it launched a platform called Apollo to coordinate efforts in the development of autonomous driving.
As reported by China News, the Chinese Internet giant has surpassed Google in self-driving cars and now even Huawei is reportedly developing driverless cars in partnership with various automakers as part of a push into artificial intelligence.
Leading these three top technology trends for China means driving a silent revolution that will change everything in people’s lives, creating a new global system that will connect every home and every street, every device and every action of everyday life.
Therefore, the improvement of 5G, blockchain, and self-driving vehicles is not only in line with the priorities of Beijing but it is also the first chance to lead wireless technology development on a global scale. A chance China is taking with enthusiasm.
MORE ON THIS TOPIC