For China, ICT Is Priority 1

October 1, 2016
By Paul A. Strassmann

The 80-page summary of China’s recently published five-year plan (5YP) establishes information and communications technology (ICT) as the country’s highest priority. China presents a well-thought-out plan to close the technology gap with the United States and ultimately surpass it. The published text also conveys a sense of urgency. In view of rapid developments in China, attention to its 5YP is well-warranted.

Rising wages and the coming shift to the service sector make the development of much stronger ICT a necessity for China. Computer-controlled manufacturing will reduce labor costs and increase product value while streamlining defense, automated business processes, smart manufacturing, administrative methods and integration with logistics. 

China’s emphasis on ICT also will restructure its cybersecurity. A new approach to managing the Internet is giving the population access to information while increasing government control. It ensures that all networks are protected, especially military and associated commercial infrastructure.

China is placing significant emphasis on applying ICT to every part of its economy. Its concerns now focus on how all enterprises, whether state-owned or private, can be managed with greater protection against losses. To improve surveillance, locally improvised solutions will be replaced by applications that can demonstrate economies of scale. China’s latest ICT plan includes oversight on integrated circuits, artificial intelligence, smart hardware, new displays, mobile smart terminals and telecommunications, advanced sensors and wearable equipment. When this goal is realized, government agencies then can monitor each project that operates in a cloud environment hosted on a government-controlled intranet. 

The Chinese 5YP sets forth ambitious new directions. It brings most large projects under the management of intelligence directorates that will align ICT with political priorities. Because China does not have the time for expensive research and development or experimental installations, most technologies will be tested—by others—before they are launched. Its current GDP growth rate of about 7 percent cannot be sustained by deferring major information technology projects. Consequently, cyber espionage is an attractive solution for systems innovation. 

Chinese planners hope to increase ICT to U.S. levels in 10 to 20 years. But even the most generous research and development funds could not close the gap in system know-how that quickly between China and the United States. The United States, therefore, must sharpen its defenses against cyber espionage.

Read the full article, "Damage From Cyber Espionage Looms Large."

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