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This is what Chinese tech tycoons brought to the table at China’s Two Sessions

Written by Song Jingli Published on 

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At China’s most important political event of the year, they called for development in 5G, IoT, and tech education, among other fields.

Chinese tech leaders from all sectors are now in Beijing, attending China’s most important political event of the year—the Two Sessions— to discuss and propose plans regarding the country’s technological development, among other duties.

The Two Sessions, which refers to the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislator, and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country’s top advisory body, kicked off on May 21 after a long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reuniting nearly 3,000 NPC deputies and more than 2,000 CPPCC members at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

Founders and CEOs of major tech companies such as Lei Jun, founder of Xiaomi, Baidu’s CEO and co-founder Robin Li, Ding Lei, founder and CEO of NetEase, Zhou Hongyi, chairman and founder of cybersecurity software Qihoo 360, and Zhang Yunrong, general manager of telecommunication carrier China Unicom, among others, discussed 5G development, industrial internet adoption, tech education, Internet of Things (IoT), and other tech fields.

Xiaomi’s founder and NPC member Lei Jun suggested the employment of smart devices to build a national disaster warning system.

Development of new tech infrastructure

Pony Ma, Tencent’s founder and NPC deputy, did not attend this year’s conference due to health reasons, but submitted seven proposals to China’s top politicians. Ma suggested that the government should speed up the development of cloud computing infrastructure to lay a solid foundation for China’s digital economy, as part of his advice.

Baidu’s founder Robin Li, also a CPPCC member, recommended ramping up efforts to build a world-leading AI infrastructure, and called for the application of open-source deep learning platforms in various industries. Li also emphasized the importance of constructing smart transportation infrastructure across the country. His company, Baidu, is a leader in China’s autonomous driving sector and has recently rolled out robotaxi services in Changsha, a city in Central China’s Hubei province.

Zhou Hongyi, leader of cybersecurity software Qihoo 360 and a CPPCC member, invited the government to design a national cybersecurity protective system to secure China’s expanding digital infrastructure, which could be vulnerable to cyber-attacks. 

Just during the Two Sessions, Qihoo 360 was added to the Unites States’ Entity List, KrASIA reported.

5G expansion ideas at Two Sessions

Zhang Yunrong, general manager of Product Center for China Unicom, one of the country’s three telecom operator, and also a CPPCC member, mentioned that the government should treat 5G as a public utility, and should work to ease carriers’ difficulty in selecting proper sites for 5G base stations.

Yu Minhong, CPPCC member and chairman of educational services provider New Oriental Education, suggested the government to take advantage of 5G development to close the educational gap between urban and rural areas in China. He mentioned the need to roll-out 5G networks in rural areas to cover local schools, while also providing subsidies to buy 5G devices and traffic data to such schools. Yu also invited officials to support private companies to develop 5G and AI applications via fiscal measures. 

Qihoo 360’s Zhou suggested that the country should include 5G networks as part of the national security strategy,  establishing 5G security standards, also covering other areas such as IoT applications, big data, driverless cars, and more.

Industrial internet adoption

Tencent’s Ma suggested in his written memo that the government should establish a national strategy for developing the industrial internet, a field that he sees as the digitalization of all industries.

The industrial internet merges big data, wireless networks, analytical tools, physical and industrial machines, into a single workflow. Tencent has teamed with the State Grid of China in building industrial internet infrastructure for the power sector since May 2019, KrASIA reported.

Zhou also called on all parties to build a “centralized security brain” for the industrial internet instead of building separate systems.

Internet of Things (IoT) growth

Pony Ma, founder of Tencent (right), next to Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba. Pony Ma did not attend this year’s event due to health reasons. Photo: Tuchong

Xiaomi’s founder and NPC member Lei Jun suggested the employment of smart devices, including smartphones and smart TV sets, in building the country’s national disaster warning system.

He invited lawmakers to mend China’s laws such as the Emergency Response Law, which sets rules about how parties can deal with natural and human disasters, public health crises, among other emergent situations. He also indicated that officials could revise current regulations that bar companies from participating in disaster warning.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that a society should have the ability to resolve major systemic risks, the key of which lies in identifying, controlling, and warning, said Lei, who also mentioned that the government should encourage research from the private sector in this area.

Xiaomi is currently China’s leading IoT operator with over 250 million connected devices, according to the firm.

Satellite internet access

Lei also suggested the development of satellite internet, which refers to internet access provided through communications satellites. Satellite internet should be included in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) since this burgeoning industry needs more design and guidance from the top-level authorities, said Lei.

He also advised the country to streamline satellite frequency application procedures, lowering the entry barriers for private companies, and invited the country to set up governmental funds to back startups in this sector.

Beijing
This year’s Two Sessions, China’s biggest political gathering of the year, have been pushed back to late May due to the coronavirus. Photo by Pier Francesco Grizi on Unsplash

Coding and tech education 

Ding Lei, founder of gaming company NetEase and also CPPCC member, suggested that China should include coding into the nation’s curriculum for students, first in high school and later in primary school. Ding also called for schools and companies to co-develop learning resources.

The Two Sessions, which in previous years usually last about two weeks, are scheduled to close in the afternoon of May 28, according to State-owned newspaper People’s Daily, just a week after its beginning, due to the COVID-19 situation. 

Some of this year’s proposals could be picked up by China’s top leaders and implemented in the country’s next development plans.

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