The Chinese Communist Party's top cadre training school has adopted a "metaverse system" that offers a "more effective" party-building experience, tapping into the popular concept that some people consider to be the next iteration of the internet.
The Chinese Academy of Governance, a key training school for government officials, has deployed the country's first metaverse-empowered party-building system that "supports party-building work in a flexible and powerful way", according to an article posted on Tencent Holdings' WeChat by Beijing-based virtual reality (VR) firm Mengke VR, which is one of the technology providers of the system.
The system is said to let users remotely access virtual activities, including party conferences and party history lessons. Participants appear as three-dimensional digital avatars, and they can examine historical relics and assemble installations, all in 3D, the company wrote.
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In recent years, many local branches of the Communist Party have experimented with using virtual reality for cadre training. In 2018, for instance, a town in eastern China claimed to be the first in the country to use VR to reinforce cadres' allegiance to the party. People were asked to put on VR headsets to answer a series of questions based on a documentary they were shown about communist heroes.
According to Mengke VR, VR party building, which only lets participants visit virtual sites, "becomes rather boring" after a while. Party building in the metaverse, on the other hand, allows participants to move around and communicate with audio and their virtual bodies, the company said. They can also listen to virtual narrators explain "current hot topics and knowledge", and raise their hands to ask questions.
The new system helps save time and travel costs, and make party building more effective, the firm said.
Metaverse is a conceptual term loosely defined as a shared and immersive virtual space that allows digital representations of people to interact in ways that mimic real life, including through socialisation, trade, play and work.
The concept exploded into the mainstream during the Covid-19 pandemic, when games like Fortnite, Roblox and Animal Crossing: New Horizons became popular destinations for online interactions. Enthusiasm towards the idea continued to grow as major companies such as Facebook, which changed its name to Meta in October, pledged their commitment to building a metaverse.
China's internet companies have also expressed interest and made moves that are considered to be preparations for building their own metaverse, despite government and state media warnings of a market frenzy and scams related to the concept.
Metaverse-related projects, however, have been featured in a slew of work plans by local governments. At this year's National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, more commonly known as the "two sessions", a number of delegates also shared their views on how the country should embrace and regulate the metaverse.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.