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With China’s digital economy growing 18 percent last year to 26 trillion yuan, or $3.8 trillion U.S. dollars, government officials have announced plans to keep its strong momentum going by investing in big data and artificial intelligence sectors.

China’s so-called “digital transformation” has seen the country shift away from traditional manufacturing and heavy pollution. Under the banner of “Made in China 2025,” the country of over 1 billion people is pushing toward a shift in high-end manufacturing.

The National Development and Reform Commission on Wednesday announced plans to focus on creating high-end jobs in big data, AI and cloud computing, along with the Internet of Things.

The initiative will see the NDRC provide additional financing to help grow jobs, according to Reuters. The government will also prevent the creation of new positions in low-end manufacturing, such as textiles, furniture, and chemicals.

Instead, the government is betting that more workers will be needed in digital jobs, as well as high-end manufacturing of products such as electric cars and robots.

In addition to raising funds and supporting industries, the NDRC is also looking to court workers from outside of China to bolster its workforce.

OWI Insight: With a state-backed agenda and a long-term gameplan aiming to take the world into the next stage of the data economy, China could be poised to capitalize on the next big trends, particularly big data and AI, both of which are key for the identity industry. Of course, China has the advantage of a centrally-controlled economy and a president serving lifetime term. However, if the rest of the world doesn’t want China and the Chinese government to take the lead in the next phases of the surging data economy, the time to act is now.

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