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Xi Jinping: AI strategically important for China to lead global tech revolution

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an important driving force for the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation and China must develop, control and use AI to secure a leading position in the front, said Chinese President Xi Jinping in a meeting held by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Wednesday.

The comments underscored Beijing’s continued ambition for technological dominance despite Washington’s allegations of theft and unfair practices in relation to intellectual property.

Xi made the comments at a Politburo meeting focused on AI, after the Communist Party’s 25-member policymaking body met to decide on a new game plan to handle an expected worsening in the economy from the trade war with the United States, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

China need understand the importance of accelerating the development of AI industry and set target and make plans to promote AI’s integration into its economic and social development, said Xi.

Xi said China must ensure that it “occupies the high ground of AI core technology” and could firmly keep the technology in its hands by leveraging “China’s massive data and huge market potential”.

China’s economy has shifted from a high-speed growth stage to a high-quality development stage, in urgent need of a new generation of AI and other innovations and should strengthen the application of AI in different industries, said Xi.

He said China need to work to combine the AI technology with people’s needs in everyday life, including education, healthcare, housing, transportation and so forth.

China’s State Council issued a state plan for AI in July last year, under which, China aims to match the world’s leading powers in AI by 2020; lead the world in certain aspects of the technology by 2025; and be the world’s leading power in AI by 2030, with an industry worth over 1 trillion yuan a year.

The ambitions have fanned fears overseas of Chinese dominance of the sector, prompting Beijing to soften its approach at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai last month and call for international cooperation in the area.

And while many Chinese businesses, from Tencent to Alibaba, are investing heavily into AI, this is the first time that the Chinese leader has gathered the Politburo to study the technology and required the country to embrace it.

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