ChinAI: China Standards 2035 are the “real key” to Sino-US tech competition

Translation of article originally in Mandarin from zgtrends

An ambitious 15-year national grand strategy is under intensive planning. It is reported that the blueprint has been completed and is expected to be available by the end of this year. Foreign media have vigilantly called it an upgraded version of “Made in China 2025” because its name alone is enough to shock the international community again — “China Standard 2035”.

From a higher-level perspective, you will find that the US’s pursuit of Chinese technology companies in the past two years has only been a partial war. Behind this is a more ambitious and fierce war scene.

The Sino-US standards dispute

“First-rate companies set standards, second-rate companies do technology, and third-rate companies sell products”, the same is true of national competition. As Frank Rose, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, said: “U.S.-China competition is essentially about who will control the global information technology infrastructure and standards.”

Behind the standards is interest, power, politics, diplomacy, and the struggle for dominance of international rules.

There are signs that the low-key “China Standard 2035” is ready to come out

Senior decision-makers proposed a standardization strategy back in 2015. In 2018, the Standardization Administration of China, an agency directly under the State Council, stated that it was formulating “China Standards 2035.” In January 15 this year, the “Chinese Standard 2035” project held a meeting at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

In mid-March, just after China emerged from the darkest moments of the epidemic, the Standardization Administration of China issued a document titled “Main Points of National Standardization Work in 2020.”

At that time, there were few reports in Chinese media, but this document has received high attention from the outside world in recent months, and it is believed that it can be used to get a glimpse of the final blueprint of China’s standard 2035.

The document proposes to strengthen construction of the nine standard systems of epidemic prevention and control, agriculture and rural areas, food quality and consumer quality safety, high-end manufacturing, new-generation information technology and biotechnology, service industry, social governance, ecological civilization, and national standard samples. 

The key areas are: blockchain, Internet of Things, new forms of cloud computing, big data, 5G, new generation artificial intelligence, new forms of smart cities, geographic information systems (GIS), etc. It is not difficult to find that these are the core technologies of the digital economy era.

In a newsletter discussing the article, ChinAI’s Jeff Ding noted that “there’s more to technical standards-setting than zero-sum competition between great powers. In a commentary for NBR, I analyzed how China, the United States, and other countries are balancing priorities in their pursuit of technical standardization in data governance and artificial intelligence.”

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