Source : CNN
Hong Kong (CNN Business) – China has spent decades nurturing its tech sector. Now, faced with a massive public health crisis, Beijing is pushing its tech companies to join the fight against the novel coronavirus.
The country’s tech giants have responded to the outbreak by deploying autonomous vehicles to bring supplies to medical workers, fitting drones with thermal cameras to improve detection of the virus and lending their computing power to help develop a vaccine.
It’s not clear how much tech can help control the virus, which has now infected at least 79,000 people worldwide and killed more than 2,600, mostly in mainland China. And some of the efforts put forth so far are limited in size and scope.
But Beijing has made clear that fighting the virus is a national priority that requires collective action.
The government has long stressed technological innovation as an important pillar of growth, and Beijing has spent billions of dollars on subsidies, loans and bonds designed to spur advancements in artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and other areas as it works to develop a tech sector that can compete with Silicon Valley.
“The fight against the epidemic cannot be achieved without the support of science and technology,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said earlier this month, according to state news agency Xinhua.
He added that China should ramp up clinical research for vaccines and antiviral drugs, as well as expand online shopping options for the tens of millions of people who are staying indoors to prevent the disease’s spread.The Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology on Thursday called on the tech sector for help, suggesting that robots, temperature screening machines and devices that can help reduce human contact should be deployed.