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Zhejiang province eyes 200 billion yuan metaverse industry by 2025

Zhejiang is the latest Chinese province to roll out a metaverse development plan after the concept gained traction among local Chinese authorities as a promising new industry.

The eastern province, where Post-owner Alibaba Group Holding is headquartered, aims to develop metaverse related industries valued at more than 200 billion yuan (US$28.7 billion) by 2025, according to a development plan published on the official website of the provincial development and reform commission on Thursday.

The plan, designated for the 2023 to 2025 period, laid out several major goals, such as building a complete supply chain and industry ecosystem, improving innovation, and promoting metaverse applications in industries such as e-commerce and entertainment. To achieve the goals, Zhejiang aims to groom 10 industry leaders and 50 enterprises with their own expertise in augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, blockchain and artificial intelligence industries.

Several local government departments – including the propaganda department, cybersecurity administration, department of science and technology, provincial department of commerce and market supervision bureau – are all participating in the development plan.

Zhejiang is not the only Chinese province that has laid out metaverse work plans. Since last year, authorities in several major cities including Shanghai, Hangzhou and Wuhan, the capital of central Hubei province, have unveiled similar plans.

China tech companies are also testing the waters in the sector. Shanghai-based Xiaohongshu is selling virtual fashion items in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), while gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings has undertaken collaborations with a number of fashion brands for its Peacekeeper Elite game, the localised version of PUBG Mobile.

The newly published plan by the Zhejiang government also emphasises the integration of the real economy and metaverse in areas including manufacturing, medical, and future cities. Metaverse applications will be applied in scenarios such as industrial product design and development, surgery practice, as well as government services.

Still, state media has issued warnings about risks in the metaverse industry as local governments and enterprises flock into the booming sector. Last month, China’s top economic newspaper cautioned against “feverishly” jumping on the metaverse bandwagon.

“The metaverse industry sounds promising, but it may not fit every region. Be wary of feverishly following suit and betting big on it while detached from reality”, said the article in Economic Daily, a newspaper run by the State Council and overseen by the Chinese Communist Party’s central propaganda department. South China Morning Post

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