On 5 September 2019, the Ministry of Science and Technology published the Work Guidelines on the Establishment of National New Generation Artificial Intelligence Innovation Development Experimental Zones (Guo Ke Fa Gui  No. 298). National New Generation AI Innovation Development Experimental Zones are specific areas established in cooperation with local governments to promote demonstration of AI technologies and to pilot experimental policies for AI development, replicable in other areas of the country at a later stage.
According to the document, around 20 AI experimental zones will be established by 2023, focusing on cities with strong AI foundations, especially across the Jing-Jin-Ji region, the Yangtze River Delta and the Greater Bay Area, and taking into account integrated development between eastern, central and western regions as well as China’s northeast.
The document outlines four main tasks that AI experimental zones will need to fulfil:
- Launch of application and demonstration of AI technologies, exploring new ways of deep integration between AI and the economy, especially in manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, finance, commerce, household, medical care, education, government affairs, transports, environmental protection, public security, urban management, elderly care, disabled assistance.
- Launch of experimental policies, shaping a favourable environment for original AI innovation development, especially in terms of data protection and development, technology transfer, intellectual property, safety management, talent introduction, finance and taxation, social security, and international cooperation.
- Launch of long-term and cross-disciplinary social experiments, exploring new methods and means of governance in the intelligent era, evaluating the impact of AI technologies on behaviour patterns, employment structure and income changes of individual and organisations, thus providing support to AI governance.
- Promote the establishment of AI infrastructures, enhancing the conditions for AI development. For instance, network and big data infrastructures, the upgrading and smartification of traditional infrastructures, the openness of public data, as well as AI R&D bases and platforms.
Finally, the document outlines the criteria and the procedures that candidate zones must meet and follow in order to apply for being recognised as National New Generation AI Innovation Development Experimental Zones.
Two National New Generation AI Innovation Development Experimental Zones have been established so far: the first in February 2019 in Beijing; the second in July 2019 in Maqiao, located in Shanghai’s Minhang District.