Beijing is accelerating its bid for global leadership in key technologies, planning to pump more than a trillion dollars into the economy through the rollout of everything from wireless networks to artificial intelligence (AI).
In the master plan backed by President Xi Jinping himself, China will invest an estimated $1.4 trillion over six years to 2025, calling on urban governments and private tech giants like Huawei Technologies Co. to deploy fifth generation wireless networks, install cameras and sensors and develop AI software that will underpin technologies from autonomous driving to automated factories and mass surveillance.
The new infrastructure initiative is expected to drive mainly local giants, from Alibaba and Huawei to SenseTime Group Ltd., at the expense of U.S. companies. As tech-nationalism mounts, the investment drive will reduce China’s dependence on foreign technology — echoing objectives set forth previously in the Made in China 2025 program. Such initiatives have already drawn fierce criticism from the Trump administration, resulting in moves to block the rise of Chinese technology companies such as Huawei.