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Doing the MOST: China to Build 700 Key State Labs as Tencent Invests $70bn in Post-COVID-19 Recovery

© REUTERS / Carlos Garcia RawlinsChinese President Xi Jinping and officials attend the opening session of NPC in Beijing
Chinese President Xi Jinping and officials attend the opening session of NPC in Beijing - Sputnik International
A Chinese ministry has announced plans to boost national self-sufficiency in key industries by launching efforts to build hundreds of research laboratories. The news comes as the world's largest gaming and social media company pledged further investments to boost national infrastructure amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing US trade war on China.

The Chinese government has stepped up efforts to build 700 "key state laboratories" to boost domestic scientific research capabilities amid the US trade war on China, it was reported on Wednesday.

Chinese authorities aim to build the facilities by the end of the year to "serve as a significant force to lead fundamental research", the Economic Information Daily reported as cited by the South China Morning Post.

The labs "will focus on the world's [most] advanced technology and the long term development of the nation" a Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) document in 2018 said as quoted by the SCMP.

News conference at the State Council Information Office following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beijing - Sputnik International
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The news comes as China's State Council pledged last week $1.4tn USD to boost key technologies and infrastructure across the mainland and others, providing vital funds for 5G and 6G research, AI and other key tech industries.

Premiere Li Keqiang presented the initiative at a National People's Congress meeting last week, which will invest up to 2025 as part of a $563bn USD fiscal stimulus plan in 2008 in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Tencent Follows With $70bn Investments To Back Post-Coronavirus Efforts Across China

The measures come as Tencent Holdings announced $70bn in funding over the next five years for new IT infrastructure for artificial intelligence, cloud computing, blockchain technology, data centres and many others across China, the company said in a WeChat statement on Tuesday.

The Shenzhen-based tech giant aims to develop large-scale data centres across the country, with a million servers in each site, according to the post.

Tencent vice-president Tong Taosang said in an interview that his firm would boost collaboration with “internal scientific research experts and laboratory resources at top universities” to find talent and form industry standards.

"We believe that accelerating the new infrastructure will help achieve a closer connection between the supply side and demand side of the digital economy, provide a strong guarantee for the development of the industrial internet, and achieve high-quality economic development," he said.

Tencent also promised to back China's economic recovery after the pandemic with $280bn in donations for COVID-19 relief initiatives in the mainland and globally, Ma Huateng, chairman and chief executive for Tencent, said in a May statement.

Technological Innovation 'The Root Of Life' For Business - Chinese President Xi

Such initiatives follow in line with statements from Chinese president Xi Jinping, who urged further self-reliance and technological innovation to fight the long-term challenges from Washington's trade war.

“Technological innovation is the root of life for businesses. Only if we own our own intellectual property and core technologies, then can we produce products with core competitiveness and [we] won’t be beaten in intensifying competition," President Xi said at an 18 May speech.

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President Xi announced further support to China's efforts in a speech at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where he urged the scientific and engineering community to build China as a leader in key technologies.

“The situation is pressing. The challenges are pressing. The mission upon us is pressing,” Xi said in Beijing at a joint annual conference with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering in 2018.

Recent efforts aim to move Chinese firms away from US tech after Washington extended a trade ban on Huawei, ZTE and over 70 firms in May placed on an Entity List last year, with US officials citing national security concerns.

The US has routinely accused China of potentially using its technologies to spy at the behest of the Chinese government, which both Huawei and Beijing have repeatedly and sharply denied. The latter two have urged Washington to provide evidence backing its claims despite the Trump administration failing to produce any to date.

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