While the idea of the metaverse has many people talking and Chinese tech giants showing signs of making a foray into the space, a Beijing-based state-owned think tank has warned of the national security risks that the metaverse could bring.

Fast facts

  • In a research report titled “Metaverse and National Security” published Saturday by China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, researchers at the think tank warned the metaverse, which could serve as part of an economic reform, will certainly make an impact on the field of national security.
  • The think tank said the metaverse could enter an exploration phase in five to 10 years as the cost of relevant technology reduces and the user base matures. The researchers wrote that potential risks associated with the metaverse could be centered around technological hegemony, information and technological security, as well as societal problems.
  • As a result, the development of metaverse needs to go with necessary regulatory supervision and guidance to ensure national security, according to the report.
  • In September, CITIC Securities, arguably China’s largest brokerage firm, said in a research report the metaverse will enter an exploration stage in the next three to five years and could become a way of life in 20 years. Notably, for the software, the report said the first breakthroughs might come from tech giants such as Tencent, ByteDance, Facebook, and Baidu, in the fields of gaming, social networking and advertising
  • Chinese technology companies are getting involved in the metaverse. Both Tencent and Alibaba have registered metaverse-related trademarks. Also, on Aug. 29, ByteDance acquired Pico, a leading VR equipment company, at a price of RMB 9 billion (about US$1.39 billion), which was regarded as a signal to enter the metaverse market. Tencent became the China’s distributor of the metaverse sandbox game Roblox in 2019.