China

Chinese Public AI R&D Spending: Provisional Findings

Ashwin Acharya Zachary Arnold
| December 2019

China aims to become “the world’s primary AI innovation center” by 2030. Toward that end, the Chinese government is spending heavily on AI research and development (R&D)—but perhaps not as heavily as some have thought. This memo provides a provisional, open-source estimate of China’s spending.

See our translation of a CPC Central Committee and PRC State Council strategy for education reform issued in July 2010. The strategy doesn’t mention emerging technologies explicitly, but does address international educational exchange and cultivation of world-class talent, which has implications for emerging technology.

See our translation of a tech transfer plan, which briefly addresses China's system for acquiring foreign technology, but the bulk of the document deals with transfers of technology within China, such as finding practical, commercially viable applications of new discoveries and putting technological advancements to work in rural areas and economically disadvantaged regions.

See our translation of a Ministry of Education plan issued in April 2018. The plan lays out objectives designed to significantly enhance China’s cadre of AI talent and its university AI curricula by 2030.

See our translation of a bill proposed in Taiwan’s parliament that provides for up to seven years in prison or a $1 million fine for leaks of sensitive technology. The bill aims to counter Chinese industrial espionage and reassure U.S. firms that they can conduct R&D in Taiwan without fear of their proprietary technology being disclosed to Chinese competitors.

When it comes to blacklisting Chinese AI companies engaged in human rights violations, “the US is on strong moral ground,” says Helen Toner, CSET’s Director of Strategy.

AI is Getting Caught Up in Politics

Axios Future
| November 2, 2019

Tarun Chhabra, Senior Fellow at CSET, spoke with Axios about the asymmetry between the U.S. and Chinese approaches to funding emerging technology. “[T]he Chinese Communist Party’s whole technology worldview is driven, not merely charged, by the imperative of consolidating social control and emerging dominant in geopolitical competition,” he said.

CSET’s Helen Toner, Lorand Laskai and Jeff Ding contributed to a special report by DigiChina, a joint Stanford University and New America project.

When it comes to U.S. efforts to link Chinese human rights violations and trade, China will likely act as though “what’s going on is the U.S. trying to quash their successful companies,” said Helen Toner, CSET’s Director of Strategy.

See our translation of one of the most detailed local government plans for “military-civil fusion.” It provides insight into local efforts to steer the development of emerging technologies in directions that fulfill PLA requirements.