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China’s state-owned firms to spend $1.5 trillion on smart infrastructure

Chinese equipment maker XCMG recently repaired a road using autonomous vehicles controlled by satellite navigation (XCMG)
Chinese state-owned enterprises plan to invest some $1.5 trillion in non-traditional infrastructure projects between 2021 and 2025 as the government acts to sustain economic growth, China Daily reports

According to the news site, senior state-asset regulators said on Friday that the money would be spent on more than 1,300 “new infrastructure” schemes, meaning facilities that make use of emerging technologies such as 5G, AI and the internet of things

Peng Huagang, secretary-general of the Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), told a news conference in Beijing that the investment would promote the transformation of traditional sectors and bolster the growth of emerging industries.

The aim is to apply the benefits of AI and big data processing to the bricks-and-mortar economy and give smaller companies a guaranteed pipeline of orders to persuade them to upgrade their businesses. 

The digitisation drive will be supported by a national processing infrastructure. The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic regulator, announced in February that the country would put in place a system for big data integration, based on eight computing hubs and 10 clusters of data centres.

Peng said the programme of works would be carried out by around 70 companies, which last year invested more than $60bn to expand their capacity to carry out digitally enhanced schemes.

He added that this expansion had been supported by China’s structural adjustment and innovation funds for state-owned companies. This has led to the development of a number of innovations, such as new energy vehicles, the Beidou satellite navigation systems and blockchain, as well as collaborative platforms for sectors such as offshore engineering equipment, logistics and big data processing.

Weng Jieming, vice-chair of SASAC, said at the press conference the government would focus on the structural reform of state-owned companies. He said 47 of them had been reorganised over the past 10 years, citing as examples China Railway Rolling Stock and the China Anneng Construction Group.

He added the overseas assets of the largest state-owned companies had reached $1.2 trillion, distributed over some 8,000 projects in more than 180 countries and regions.

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