Media are seeking out our experts to provide insight on critical matters at the intersection of security and emerging technology. Among the topics on which they’ve weighed in: the risks of tech transfer posed by Chinese students in the United States, continuing issues with semiconductor supply chains, and India’s capabilities in AI.
The Biden administration is assessing the risks to intellectual property posed by China, including the role of Chinese STEM students in the United States, amid proposals from Congress that such students be banned. In Foreign Affairs, CSET research fellows Remco Zwetsloot and Zachary Arnold argue that a ban on Chinese STEM students would not only hinder technological innovation but is counterproductive to quelling China’s technology transfer efforts. Foreign talent is key to U.S. innovation, Zwetsloot and Arnold say, and “the best way for the United States to retain its technological strength is by building on one of its most enduring assets: its ability to attract and retain the world’s best talent, including Chinese talent.”
Twitter and Facebook may be blocked in China, but the Chinese Communist Party is using these and other social media to its advantage in another way. An Associated Press investigation laid out the extent to which China is amplifying its messaging and shaping public opinion online via fake accounts. By examining Chinese government budget documents, university announcements and media reports, CSET expert Ryan Fedasiuk found that China used twenty million volunteers and two million paid commentators to shape public opinion online. Fedasiuk’s full research on China’s internet trolls is featured in a piece he wrote for The Jamestown Foundation.
CSET’s work was featured twice this past month in Fortune’s weekly newsletter Eye on AI. China and the United States have another rising competitor in AI: India. To understand India’s AI capabilities, Fortune spoke with CSET Research Analyst Husanjot Chahal about her co-authored CSET report Mapping India’s AI Potential. Rather than viewing India as a competitor, Chahal described the ongoing AI relationship between India and the United States as “an avenue of cooperation.” In another piece on law firms expanding their specialties to include AI regulation, Fortune cited CSET’s AI Incident Database, a project in conjunction with Partnership on AI that has documented 1,200 public cases of AI system failures in the last three years.
According to Section 1260H of the National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Department of Defense is required to disclose which Chinese military companies (CMCs) are operating in the United States. DOD missed the submission deadline on April 15, 2021. Together with coauthor Jordan Brunner, CSET Research Analyst Emily Weinstein defines what amendment 1260H is and what exactly constitutes a CMC in a Lawfare piece. It remains unclear how the list of CMCs will affect U.S.-China relations, but potential outcomes could include sanctions against China or restrictions on visas for Chinese students seeking to study in the United States.
Companies like Intel and Nvidia are the largest U.S. chip manufacturers, but high demand and chip shortages continue to put the country behind global competitors such as Taiwan in the race for chip leadership. Intel and others are pushing to build more semiconductor fabrication plants (fabs) to expand their long-term capacity, says Will Hunt, a CSET Research Analyst focused on semiconductor workforce and supply chain issues. However, building fabs does not happen overnight. In fact, Hunt says, “you need years” to secure land, get permits, construct the plant, install equipment, and ramp up production.
How real is the race for AI supremacy? This Bloomberg article argues that AI is a by-product of globalization rather than a nation-state competition. To emphasize China’s lack of investment in AI start-ups outside its borders, the author cites CSET Senior Fellow Melissa Flagg’s briefs AI Hubs in the United States and AI Hubs: Europe and CANZUK. The disclosed investments by Chinese-based funders in U.S. AI companies from 2000 to 2020 added up to $1.9 billion, 2.4% of total investment. In Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K., Chinese investments in AI firms “never exceed 3%,” and in many countries, there has been “zero disclosed venture capital AI investment from entities headquartered in China,” according to Flagg.
Chemical & Engineering News
CSET Research Analyst Emily Weinstein made a double appearance this past month in Chemical & Engineering News. An article looking at the case of Xiaorong (Shannon) You, a former chemist for Coca-Cola who was convicted for stealing trade and IP secrets from the company, noted that she was discovered to be an alumna of China’s Thousand Talents Plan. While the plan does not overtly encourage IP theft, Weinstein discussed how China’s talent programs foster a culture of secrecy among their participants. Cases such as this have placed Asian researchers working in the United States under scrutiny for economic espionage from China. In a different article, Weinstein addresses the misconception of the China Initiative being linked to China’s Thousand Talents Plan. “Part of the issue that we’re seeing here is a lack of understanding on both sides,” Weinstein notes. “Law enforcement does not understand what is considered a normal research practice in academia, open research collaboration, and some of the funding disclosure issues. But academia does not understand why law enforcement is so concerned about this.”