China released its first action plan dedicated to virtual reality on Tuesday, with an aim its industry ship more than 25 million devices with a value exceeding 350 billion yuan ($48.20 billion) by 2026.

A Sony Group Corp. PlayStation VR2 (PS VR2) headset.

It was published by five ministries in Beijing, led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and categorised virtual reality as a key industry for the digital economy under the country's 14th five-year plan.

The paper includes augmented reality and mixed reality in its definition of virtual reality.

This first action plan reflects Beijing’s ambition to lead the world in virtual technology and sets detailed goals.

It did not specify whether the 25 million devices target referred to annual or accumulative shipments between now and 2026.

In the first half of this year, China shipped just over half a million virtual reality and augmented reality devices, research firm IDC said.

The plan also includes a target to increase the total value of the industry to more than 350 billion yuan, which the ministries say includes hardware and software sales.

It added that China will need to nurture 100 core companies and form 10 public service platforms for the industry by 2026.

The China Academy of Information and Communications, a state-backed think tank, published a report on Tuesday saying that China's motivation for the action plan should be seen in the context of the U.S. and South Korea governments having identified virtual reality as an important industry.

It also makes reference to global tech giants including Meta, Microsoft, Apple, Google and Tencent , citing them as companies rapidly pursuing virtual reality opportunities.