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Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang visited a group of national surveying and mapping services and held meetings with several top researchers involved in surveying, mapping and the development of geomatics related products and services.

“He said China attached great importance to the development of geographic information surveying and mapping sector because it is vital to the development of new industries, such as internet of things and the development of digital cities. The state bureau of surveying and mapping was recently renamed as the state bureau of geographical information, surveying and mapping. Li said this indicated that the government supports further development of geographical information sector,” he said.

Such a call does not go unnoticed in the country. With 8.9% GDP expected in 2011, China once again will be a leader in growth. That growth is anticipated to be directly related to infrastructure development and the construction of new power generation, roadways, rail, seaports and other activities. 

As Rashid’s Blog points out, the Chinese rate of geospatial sector is expected to be responsible for ” 200 billion yuan at the end of the 12th Five-year Plan period.” 

The UNSTATS organisation has previously noted the changing dynamics of geospatial activities within China. In a paper entitled Institutional Strengthening to Stimulate Geospatial Industry Growth in China‘, that organisation indicated “The State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping is now making the new map policy to make the geographic information resources currently controlled by the government be gradually available to the enterprises that are interested in the development of public geographic information products. The mergers and acquisitions of enterprises will be more active and the whole geospatial industry in China is thrilled to welcome a new period of rapid growth.”

A member of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences has also published information about the size of the Chinese geospatial market. He indicated that over 10,000 companies and 300,000 people are already working in geospatial related activities. 

In my observations of many data, the value attributed to the geospatial industry in  China is indicated to be 2-3 times the value of activities in the rest of the world based on dollars. However, we need to be cautious in assuming values. Since many of us already know that a perennial question pertaining to geospatial worth has been debated in numerous lands over the last 10 years – and all the answers are different. 

It might very well be that rise in GDP itself is the truest indicator, and in that regard, if China’s GDP is rising rapidly, then we might easily assume that geospatial and geomatics technologies are contributing significantly to that growth. 

In many of the presentations at conferences that I have attended where Chinese agencies have spoken about geospatial operations in utilities, agriculture, infrastructure, marine and security, the presentations often reflect great savings in time and improved effectiveness.  And these are readily associated with high return-on-investment. 

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang is right in suggesting the benefits of more GIS and geomatics technology use – it underlies strong, efficient and effective growth and development.