Virtual reality is seen as a key technology for the metaverse. Chinese technology companies are starting to explore metaverse applications.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

A Chinese industry body designed to develop the country’s metaverse applications has added a new batch of companies as it pushes ahead with the latest technology craze.

The metaverse does not have a solid definition yet, but often refers to technologies like virtual reality and the idea that people may be playing and living in virtual worlds.

On Wednesday, the state-backed China Mobile Communications Association’s metaverse committee added another 17 companies. A total of 112 companies or individuals are in the industry body.

The latest batch includes publicly listed companies such as Inly Media, which trades in Shanghai, and Beijing Topnew Info & Tech, which trades in Shenzhen.

The China Mobile Communication Association is registered with the country’s foreign affairs ministry and is backed by major technology firms such as Huawei and telecoms operator China Mobile. Its metaverse committee was set up in October and is tasked with developing standards and technology around the metaverse.

Often, China sets up such committees around technologies it wants to develop quickly and take a lead in, such as blockchain.

The setting up of the metaverse committee could also suggest China is looking to regulate the technology as it develops.

“Traditional Chinese internet businesses developed first and were then regulated. Industries like the metaverse will be regulated as they are built,” Du Zhengping, head of the China Mobile Communications Association’s metaverse industry committee, told Reuters in January.

Like U.S. technology giants, Chinese companies from Tencent to Alibaba are all exploring developing metaverse applications. But analysts said that China’s development of the metaverse is likely to be highly regulated and is unlikely to feature cryptocurrencies, which authorities have taken a hard stand against.