China lays out its vision to become a tech power

Image: A staff member stands next to robots at a plant of Kuka Robotics in Shanghai in this August 13, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Pete Sweeney


BEIJING (Reuters) – China aims to become a world leader in advanced industries such as semiconductors and in the next generation of chip materials, robotics, aviation equipment and satellit’s, the government said in its blueprint for development between 2016 and 2020.

In its new draft five-year development plan unveiled on Saturday, Beijing also said it aims to use the internet to bolster a slowing economy and make the country a cyber power.

China aims to boost its R&D spending to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product for the five-year period, compared with 2.1 percent of GDP in 2011-to-2015.

Innovation is the primary driving force for the country’s development, Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech at the start of the annual full session of parliament.

China is hoping to marry its tech sector’s nimbleness and ability to gather and process mountains of data to make other, traditional areas of the economy more advanced and efficient, with an eye to shoring up its slowing economy and helping transition to a growth model that is driven more by services and consumption than by exports and investment.

This policy, known as “Internet Plus”, also applies to government, health care and education.

As technology has come to permeate every layer of Chinese business and society, controlling technology and using technology to exert control have become key priorities for the government.

China will implement its “cyber power strategy”, the five-year plan said, underscoring the weight Beijing gives to controlling the Internet, both for domestic national security and the aim of becoming a powerful voice in international governance of the web.

China aims to increase Internet control capabilities, set up a network security review system, strengthen cyberspace control and promote a multilateral, democratic and transparent international Internet governance system, according to the plan.

Since President Xi Jinping came to power in early 2013, the government has increasingly reined in the Internet, seeing the web as a crucial domain for controlling public opinion and eliminating anti-Communist Party sentiment.

China will “strengthen the struggle against enemies in online sovereign space and increase control of online public sentiment,” said the plan.

It will also “perfect cybersecurity laws and legislation”.

Such laws and regulations have sparked fear amongst foreign businesses operating in China, and prompted major powers to express concern to Beijing over three new or planned laws, including one on counterterrorism.

These laws codify sweeping powers for the government to combat perceived threats, from widespread censorship to heightened control over certain technologies.

(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Additional reporting by Ryan Woo in BEIJING; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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