A high number of Chinese tech firms have been filing for metaverse trademarks despite the increasing warnings by government-related entities and the country’s ban on cryptocurrencies.
The Securities Daily reported that over 1,360 Chinese companies have rushed to register trademarks related to the metaverse in view of its increasing popularity. Three months ago, no more than 130 companies had filed for an application and most of the new players are tech firms.
As companies usually file for several trademarks at a time, the total number of metaverse-related applications was 8,534 by Sunday. But given the authoritarian Chinese government’s skeptical views on the environment, many wonder if these filings will pass their currently “pending ” or undergoing “substantive examination” status, and if they do get approved, what would a Chinese metaverse look like? Heavily censored, most likely.
A while ago Biconist reported that Gou Wenjun, director of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) unit at the People’s Bank of China(PBoC), claimed that the metaverse represents threats and said regulators should keep “consistent high-level vigilance” on its evolution. He stated virtual assets enable “widely used” pathways for many illegal activities helped by the “isolated nature” of NFT and metaverse-based items.
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On Dec. 9. , the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper also published a warning about the Metaverse and claimed the assets sales within the environment represent a high risk of volatility.
Nonetheless, the country’s second-largest video gaming firm, NetEase, filed for 26 metaverse-related trademarks. The large communications technology company Huawei Technologies Co applied to register Meta OS. The Chinese television brand giant, Hisense, also filed for its own trademarks in several fields from advertisement to scientific instruments.
So on, Chinese largest internet corporation Baidu also jumped in and showed a preview of its “Xi’rang Metaverse”. The long list keeps going with Tencent, the owner of the largest gaming company in the world by revenue, with a filing of almost 100 metaverse-related trademarks, and multiple other firms.
They are definitely chasing the moment, but will the Chinese government chase the moment back?
Can A Chinese Metaverse Survive Censorship?
Recently, a Bloomberg report explained how the government of Xi Jinping had been further censoring the already limited social media and internet in the country, aiming to reduce the presence of the online instruments in the citizens’ lives. They are encouraging young people to do more physical activities –and have less freedom.
Currently, Chinese people under 18 can only play online games for 1 hour on Friday and Sunday nights. As the online communities protested against the measures, the government has attempted to take down China’s stars image from the internet.
Bloomberg’s report quoted Adam Segal, a China and cybersecurity expert at the Council on Foreign Relations: “There is a sense that internet culture and fan culture is kind of uncivilized, decadent and distracting from what China needs to do, and gaming plays into that as well.”
Given a scenario in which China wouldn’t crackdown on the metaverse ideas proposed by these big companies, what would it look like for its users? Most likely, highly limited and censored. The metaverse is still such a young idea and there is a valid fear for it to become a tool of surveillance.
If the big men in power tamper with the lines between virtual reality and the physical one, with Zuckerberg at one end and Xi Jinping at the other, the metaverse’s future doesn’t paint the prettiest landscape for the hyped and impressionable younger generations. It’s not about the tool itself, but who gets to build the new world with it.
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