For anyone who thinks China is a superpower in only the political arena, they are missing the larger geopolitical picture. The Internet is the 21st Century’s newest battlefield where countries will fight for dominance over other nations. As content and data-mining transitions from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, or from Social Media to the Semantic Web, most thought leaders are betting on China as the front-runner in leading this charge.

Internet Hegemony

Internet hegemony is being led by the Chinese, followed by the European Union, and then the U.S. While the United States may have dominated Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, according to Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb, “the Chinese government is moving quickly to make China the world leader in the next stage of Web development where semantic technology will focus on the Internet of Things.

Internet of Things, Key Industry for China

In my previous post titled, “China’s ‘Internet Of Things’ To Become Semantic Web Superpower?” I reported that at the recent Internet of Things Expo in Shanghai, Xi Guohua, China’s vice-minister of industry and Wen Jiabaoinformation technology announced that China is placing a priority on developing a national IoT plan. Florian Michahelles, associate direct or the Auto-ID Labs and an RFID technology expert noted that “the entire hype for the Internet of Things has actually been jump started by the current premier Wen Jiabao mentioning Internet of Things as one of the key industry sectors for China. What this means?

Basically, over the last century, with the Internet becoming so interconnected with physical objects as well as people, the planet has actually grown a central nervous system. As Mike Wing from IBM explains in this 5 minute video, while we are only on the cusp of the Semantic Web emerging, as we take these early baby steps in harnessing its power, we can actually begin to hear the planet talking to us.

The Power of Google Cannot Deter Chinese Dominance

As early as October, 2009, Google CEO Eric Schmidt envisions the shift of dominance from the U.S. to China is happening as we speak. According to Schmidt, he predicts that the Internet will be dominated by Chinese-language content within the next five years. This puts Google at a major disadvantage based on its ongoing scuffles with this Super Power (see my previous post on this issue: “Google Is No Secretary Of State When It Comes To Diplomacy In China”)

According to Martin Jacques, author of “When China Rules the World,” he claims that Google with all of its far-reaching authority and power cannot take on the Chinese government over censorship issues and win. Jacques sees this dynamic as a metaphor of the bigger issue, as Google’s fate is a sign of the world to come, where the entire Internet and world for that matter – will run by the Chinese.

The Chinese municipality of Chongqing and telco giant China Unicom have announced a multi-billion dollar partnership of investment and tax breaks aimed to create as much as $7 billion in annual revenues within five years from the Internet of Things. A world-leading Internet of Things infrastructure and economy would give China a very big advantage in efficiency throughout all industries that become instrumented with sensors and a platform for significant innovation. As a hub for all this emerging activity, Chongqing could become the next Silicon Valley.

With the Internet moving so fast, and with Social Media absorbing a good amount of our time, it is easy to see how the U.S. may have back-burnered the Internet of Things and the Semantic Web. But based on China and the European Union placing a priority on this technology, I think it wise that we shift our attention soon, lest we be left in the digital dust in very short order.

– Ron Callari