TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — At a recent event in Beijing, Baidu Vice President Ma Jie (馬傑) admitted it will likely take six years for the Chinese tech giant to build its metaverse platform, "Xirang" (希壤).
Despite being able to host 100,000 attendees in a virtual conference, the platform’s latest timeline shows it is taking an incremental approach in a highly regulated market where it pays to exercise caution, according to analysts cited in a CNBC report. Much ambiguity remains about how Beijing may regulate the nascent technological space, but Baidu cannot afford to sit on its hands.
China’s search giant is not alone though. A number of Chinese tech companies, including Alibaba and Tencent, have recently waded into the metaverse space even though state media have signaling Beijing's concern the ecosystem could become a spawning ground for unlawful activity.
Earlier this year, the Chinese government banned all cryptocurrencies and for-profit NFT (non-fungible token) transactions. Although Tencent’s president said last month he is confident Beijing might soften its approach going forward, Baidu’s Ma is playing it safe.
Ma has clarified that Xirang will not support digital currencies or virtual property trading. This hints that Baidu wants to avoid painting a target on its back for China's regulators, who have shown a willingness to crack down on tech giants this year, according to CryptoPotato.
While no laws exist for the emerging Chinese metaverse, the country has just assembled its first metaverse industry group, dubbed the Metaverse Industry Committee. The committee will operate under the state-supervised China Mobile Communications Association, per CryptoPotato.
In related news, Chinese state-run outlet Xinhua on Friday (Dec. 24) issued 11 NFTs commemorating the top news stories of 2021, including celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the CCP. Though other international media, including The New York Times and CNN, have also issued NFTs of select pieces, the Xinhua ones will be called “digital collectibles,” as NFTs are termed in China.