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Patterns of artificial intelligence policies in China: a nationwide perspective

Kaili Wang (School of Information Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)
Ke Dong (School of Information Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)
Jiachun Wu (School of Information Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)
Jiang Wu (School of Information Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 15 September 2023




The purpose of this paper is to identify the historical trends and status of the national development of artificial intelligence (AI) from a nationwide perspective and to enable governments at different administrative levels to promote AI development through policymaking.


This paper analyzed 248 Chinese AI policies (36 issued by the state agencies and 212 by the regional agencies). Policy bibliometrics, policy instruments and network analysis were used to reveal the AI policy patterns. Three aspects were analyzed: the spatiotemporal distribution of issued policies, the policy foci and instruments of policy contents and the cooperation and citation among policy-issuing agencies.


Results indicate that Chinese AI development is still in the initial phase. During the policymaking processes, the state and regional policy foci have strong consistency; however, the coordination among state and regional agencies is supposed to be strengthened. According to the issuing time of AI policies, Chinese AI development is in accordance with the global situation and has witnessed unprecedented growth in the last five years. And the coastal provinces have issued more targeted policies than the middle and western provinces. Governments at the state and regional levels have emphasized familiar policy foci and played the role of policymakers, along with regional governments that also functioned as policy executors as well. According to the three-dimension instruments coding, the authors found an uneven structure of policy instruments at both levels. Furthermore, weak cooperation appears at the state level, while little cooperation is found among regional agencies. Regional governments cite state policies, thus leading to the formation of top-down diffusion, lacking bottom-up diffusion.


The paper contributes to the literature by characterizing policy patterns from both external attributes and semantic contents, thus revealing features of policy distribution, contents and agencies. What is more, this research analyzes Chinese AI policies from a nationwide perspective, which contributes to clarifying the overall status and multi-level relationships of policies. The findings also benefit the coordinated development of governments during further policymaking processes.



This research was supported by the Key Projects of Philosophy and Social Sciences Research, Ministry of Education (No. 20JZD024).


Wang, K., Dong, K., Wu, J. and Wu, J. (2023), "Patterns of artificial intelligence policies in China: a nationwide perspective", Library Hi Tech, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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