Just what we needed before the looming talks on the trade war between the two countries! The United States has restricted certain Chinese companies from buying technologies developed or manufactured in the US.
Reason cited is to punish Beijing for its human rights abuses related to the treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.
The decision drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing.
This widening of the trade blacklist by the US government includes a number of companies in China, but notably includes firms that serve on the national AI team, which the Chinese government set up as part of its strategy to become a global leader in the technology.
It was just over two year ago that Chine announced its audacious plan to overtake the US and lead the world in AI applications by 2030.
But these plans may have been totally knocked off the course by these restrictions, as the blacklist include many of China’s official national AI champions.
We have Hikvision, one of the biggest CCTV systems manufacturers on the planet, iFlytek, a voice recognition specialist, and Megvii, an image recognition developer that many refer to as the world’s most valuable AI startup.
This is because most of these companies are reliant on the United States, and the blacklisting threatens to cut off supply of computer chips and other components that these firms require to build their surveillance cameras and train their algorithms.
It is perhaps the primary reason why China is focused on developing its own AI hardware, with companies like Huawei and Alibaba recently unveiling their processors.
At present, only 16% of the semiconductors used within China are made in the country.
Beijing aims to boost this figure to 40% by the end of next year, and 70% by 2025.
We know why.