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In 1956, the Chinese Communist Party held the 20th Party Congress in Beijing, where the party outlined its guiding principles for the next five years. During the Congress, the party re-affirmed its commitment to socialism, made progress on land reform, and declared its plans for “accelerating national economic development” – including the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in China.

In this article, we will explore the implications of the 20th Party Congress Report for China’s AI ambitions.

What the 20th Party Congress Report Tells Us About China’s AI Ambitions

The 20th Party Congress Report was published in October 2017, the first time China’s AI development strategy has been proposed at the top political level. This congress report builds upon the ‘Made in China 2025 initiative, a national strategy to upgrade Chinese industry. In the report, President Xi Jinping emphasized that China should take “active steps to form standards and rules as PLA pioneers a system of intelligent development.” This call bolstered governmental support and provided outreach to domestic AI firms and related research institutes.

In response to this call-to-action, Beijing Municipal Government proposed a series of initiatives at the end of 2017, including special funding for AI industry development, investment in Artificial Intelligence venture funds, providing talent attraction services for enterprises in high-tech parks with an emphasis on the R&D capabilities of integrating AI into industries like big data analysis and digitalized medical care. Beijing is attempting to build an innovative, cohesive ecosystem for fostering AI technology transfer from research institutes to domestic businesses through these initiatives.

As part of this strategy, Beijing will become a data resource hub city focusing on promoting government affairs information sharing and integrated cloud computing platform logistics service construction as well as promoting artificial intelligence industry development through European-style innovation centers along with taking measures aimed at attracting senior professionals from countries all around the world to promote AI system R&D growth.

Overview of the 20th Party Congress Report

The 20th Party Congress Report is a detailed document that outlines China’s ambition to become the world leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI). In addition, it includes a range of policy proposals and strategies to help China realize its AI goal.

The document intends to focus on areas of AI development such as autonomous vehicles, facial recognition, healthcare, and more.

In this article, we will look at the details of this report and how it will shape China’s AI strategy.

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Main points of the report

The 20th Party Congress Report, also known as the “Announcement of the Resolution of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on Several Major Issues Concerning Adhering to and Perfecting Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” was released in October 2017. This report includes a comprehensive overview of China’s development plan for achieving a well-off society by 2020 and its mid to long-term economic roadmap until 2050.

One major point emphasised in the report is that China should focus on continued efforts to harness AI technology. In particular, it recommends that China foster an ecosystem of AI innovation and take leadership in key areas such as big data, cloud computing and IoT technology. In addition, it stresses that development should stay within legal framework and international regulations, while not shying away from taking risks.

Regarding strategic focus, the report calls for increasing investment in R&D and talent exchange among industries; using industrial policies to incentivize innovation; focusing more effort on international exchanges through collaborations with universities and foreign companies. It also stresses that technologies related to autonomous driving should be accelerated while simultaneously strengthening safety standards to effectively realize efficient usage of transportation resources. It further mentions defining new rules for legal risk management under an AI context.

Overall, the report outlines how China will seize its role in AI-driven innovation requiring regulatory reforms and investments.

Implications of the report

The 20th Party Congress Report significantly affected China’s AI strategy in the subsequent years, both positively and negatively. This report decided the future direction of China’s AI development, setting a blueprint for achieving sustainable economic growth. Positively, the report emphasized innovation driven development and reforming technological research, including focusing upon artificial intelligence innovation which was highlighted as a key strategy for economic growth.

At the same time, the report also outlined strict security measures — internal and external — and intense governmental control over AI projects. This included limits on data collection, cyber-protection requirements, and industry standards surrounding algorithm accuracy— all of which imposed extra scrutiny on Chinese AI firms operating domestically or abroad. Some enterprises saw this as a hindrance to their progress while others adjusted their plans to accommodate the new regulations to strengthen their competitive advantage.

Overall, this report shaped China’s ambition to become an Artificial Intelligence powerhouse and became a guiding document for Chinese government ministries when formulating policy regarding Chinese tech firms, particularly those relating to international investment or data security provisions. As such it has been instrumental in assisting China establish itself as one of world’s leading countries when it comes to Artificial Intelligence technology over the past decade or so.

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China’s AI Ambitions

The 20th Party Congress Report considerably impacts China’s AI strategy. This document outlines the Chinese government’s vision for the country’s technological development, including their plans for using artificial intelligence in the years to come.

As such, it provides a comprehensive view of their ambitions in terms of AI, and here we will discuss what the report tells us about China’s AI ambitions.

AI as a national priority

In October 2017, the Chinese government released a report from the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China affirming that artificial intelligence would be a major priority for the country in the coming years – with a particular focus on deep learning. Furthermore, the report emphasized that China would “promote top-level design, quicken up unfolding” of its AI strategy and “forge ahead faster than other countries in AI areas such as fundamental technology, core algorithm and system engineering.” This report unequivocally enshrines AI as one of national development priorities alongside others like energy conservation and pollution control, setting an ambitious agenda for Chinese stakeholders to innovate within this space.

Concretely, this document has ushered in multiple initiatives by various levels within the state apparatus including investments into both private companies as well as public research institutions. The Education Ministry also announced plans to build 100 artificial intelligence laboratories at universities throughout China by 2020 to support basic research and innovation in this field.

More recently, Shanghai has unveiled an ambitious plan to become a global hub for AI over the next two decades – envisioning itself as the “Silicon Valley” of AI by 2040 – creating 8000 new jobs and generating nearly $46 billion in annual revenue as it unleashes an unrelenting push for organizational coherence between policy makers, academic researchers, venture capitalists and startups all dedicated to driving forward its ambitions of becoming an AI superpower. Although much work is still needed from all stakeholders involved before these goals can be fully realized, it is clear that significant progress has already been made towards achieving them.

Government investment in AI

The Chinese government has committed to investment in AI as part of its economic and technological strategy. The 20th Party Congress Report, issued in October 2017, identified AI as a key development area for China alongside other technologies such as the Internet of Things and 5G. The 38-page report contained 12 references to AI, including Beijing’s commitment to invest in the technology and was seen by many experts as an expression of China’s ambitious plans for AI development.

As part of this effort, the Chinese government has stated its national goals regarding investment in AI:

  • Developing breakthroughs in key generic technologies with technological capabilities that are internationally consistent;
  • Realizing a large scale application and innovation with the formation of viable industrial industry chains;
  • Fostering multiple levels of talent reserve with stable supply and diversity;
  • Establishing an environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship in AI.

To reach these goals, China invests heavily across multiple research organizations while simultaneously encouraging private sector investment – domestic companies such as Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent – also known as “BAT” – and foreign businesses setting up operations within China. In 2017 alone, Chinese firms accounted for two thirds (72%) of global investments into artificial intelligence start-ups according to NaturePulse Research Institute. The same source estimates that China invested more than $14 billion into artificial intelligence during 2016 – 50% higher than any other country or region over that period.

China’s AI development strategy

The Chinese government’s 20th Party Congress Report issued in 2017 focused on the critical role that artificial intelligence plays in the country’s economic development. The Chinese government committed to building a world-leading AI industry and highlighted the need for China to take initiative in this emerging field. To achieve this goal, the report outlined four major strategies for Chinese AI development: cultivating talent and personnel; encouraging research and fostering innovation; accelerating applications through priority investment; and creating a global competitive AI industry landscape.

In terms of talent and personnel development, the demonstrated commitment of the Communist party to transform China into an innovative nation is reflected in its efforts to develop a high-caliber technical workforce with expertise in artificial intelligence across different fields, including robotics, computer vision, machine learning and deep learning. Universities have been sent requests to increase their admission standards for potential artificial intelligence students while appointing knowledgeable individuals as research chairs or professorships.

Moreover, China has heavily invested in stimulating new research fields of AI technology such as automatic driving systems or augmented reality while developing advancements related to speech recognition technology like that found in Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. To foster rapid innovation related to artificial intelligence technologies, parks like Beijing’s Zhongguancun Technology Park – known as China’s “Silicon Valley” – have been established as hubs for tech companies engaged in advanced research on intelligent technologies data analysis, facial recognition algorithms and chatbots.

The Chinese government also announced plans to fund expansive projects within key industries such as health care featuring personalized treatments through big data analyses of medical histories combined with healthcare bots that facilitate patient requirements remotely via messaging applications or voice activated assistants. In addition, priority investments will be allocated towards sectors such as education leveraging online tutoring technologies which can be adapted according to individual student needs or generate interactive interfaces enabling personalized instruction at scale with automated grading capacities eliminating time consuming components associated with physical examinations. Therefore these advancements are projected accelerate commercial application opportunities across varied industries while delivering remarkable systems benefitting society at large.

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Impact of the 20th Party Congress Report

The 20th Party Congress Report was released in October 2017 and is a milestone for China’s AI development strategy. It outlines the challenges and opportunities for the country’s budding AI industry and outlines the government’s commitment to the AI revolution.

This paper will discuss the report’s impact on China’s National AI Strategy and the implications for the country’s current and future AI ambitions.

AI development in the short-term

The 20th Party Congress Report of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), issued in October 2017, set out the development plan for artificial intelligence (AI) domestically and internationally. Its primary focus was to promote AI technologies to speed up the nation’s economic growth. The report emphasized that by 2020 China should become a global leader in AI deployment and commercialization.

In light of this policy shift, several areas will likely significantly increase AI-related development and usage over the next few years. Firstly, acceleration of existing research initiatives is likely. Currently, most of China’s research into AI is conducted by government organizations, affiliated universities, or private companies with substantial backing from major players such as Baidu and Alibaba[1]. Consequently, state-backed investment into infrastructure is likely to be diverted toward increasing these research capabilities significantly. Additionally, the CCP’s resources are likely to be used more widely for AI purposes such as improving public services offered through the internet or other digital platforms[2]. Furthermore, Chinese businesses across multiple sectors have already begun investing heavily into adapting their products and processes for automated operations using AI technology[3], with many projecting significant gains from its use in optimizing marketing efforts and production costs and efficiency[4].

The Chinese government has also taken active steps towards creating a favorable legal environment for growth in AIs overall potential use-cases over time through requirements such as making information more openly available for non-commercial reuses [5]. Lastly, although it is difficult to predict the full extent of these efforts given their still evolving nature, future developments related to these initiatives may involve increased involvement from local governments and concerned parties such as private investors or think tanks focused on its improvement [6].

AI development in the long-term

The 20th Party Congress Report played a key role in forming China’s AI strategy for the long-term. The report pointed toward potential opportunity and innovation by providing an overview of China’s major trends.

Since then, AI development in China has rapidly expanded across finance, healthcare, transportation and manufacturing sectors. As a result, the country looks to catch up with other countries like the United States, Japan and South Korea.

The Chinese government has identified seven major trends in its AI development stemming from the 20th Party Congress Report, which include: developing a national strategy for deep learning research; setting up a world-leading AI industrial base; cultivating an internationally competitive talent pool with high-end computer scientists; building launching pads for smart artificial intelligence products and services; establishing an international collaboration platform through cooperation with overseas partners; creating powerful data platforms and rich government services for users; promoting resource sharing to ensure maximum efficiency of resources.

These seven trends act as guidelines for shaping China’s national AI strategy and are being implemented by local governments nationwide. The report has become a key part of Chinese policymaking as it proposes new investment areas and facilitates large-scale investments from domestic sources of capital and international companies looking to enter or scale their business operations within the country.


The 20th Party Congress Report reveals a clear intent on the part of China to invest heavily in AI, both internally and externally, to strengthen its economy, military, and global competitiveness. As a result, China has become a major player in the global AI race, and its AI ambitions are likely to have profound implications for the rest of the world.

In this article, we examined the key implications of the 20th Party Congress Report for China’s AI ambitions and discussed the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Summary of the report’s impact

The 20th Party Congress Report, issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in October 2017, called for China to build an Intelligent Society by 2020. This report greatly impacted the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technology in China.

The report outlined a comprehensive strategy for AI development that focused on harnessing the country’s innovative potential and competitive advantages globally. It encouraged government agencies to collaborate with universities, research institutes, and private companies to drive advances in AI technology.

China has become one of the leading countries in AI technology development by investing significant resources in research and development across sectors such as Emergency Response, Education, Health Care and Manufacturing. The country also launched several policy measures to accelerate AI innovation including subsidies for AI startups, support for research projects tailored towards market needs and tax breaks to encourage talent investments.

Overall, the 20th Party Congress Report successfully laid out a robust blueprint for developing Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies in the country. The document set ambitious goals that brought together various stakeholders – from private enterprises to academic institutions – thus allowing them to collaborate while addressing critical areas related to technological advancements within China’s society.

Outlook for the future of AI in China

As the 20th Party Congress Report has outlined, the Chinese government will continue prioritizing and investing in artificial intelligence technology. Therefore, the Chinese government’s ambition to develop AI capabilities for its citizens will lead to deeper involvement in research and development initiatives and an expansion of innovative AI-related applications.

Various businesses and organizations are committed to exploring opportunities for collaboration with China in these areas, both nationally and internationally. As a result, there is potential for China’s AI-driven solutions to be leveraged by other countries outside of China to achieve mutual benefits. In addition, artificial intelligence technologies have potential applications across a wide range of industries, underscoring China’s commitment to becoming a leader in AI technology.

To maximize the potential benefits of AI provisions, the Chinese government must continue to strive for technological transparency and ethical conduct when using such technology. In doing so, it can ensure that citizens and foreign investors benefit from its efforts while maintaining trustworthiness with its choices regarding how it employs artificial intelligence techniques.

With greater international cooperation in developing applications for artificial intelligent technologies, there is great potential for growth within this domain for years to come.