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Artificial intelligence technologies as the means of China’s pursuit of global technological leadership

Artificial intelligence technologies as the means of China’s pursuit of global technological leadership

China’s strategic goal is becoming the global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2030. China is developing ambitious plans according to which AI would accelerate its digital revolution and ensure its global dominance in technological race with the US.

Currently, China is using AI technology to analyse big data, process natural language, develop autonomous and other weapons systems. As a result, China is able to exert tighter control over society, to increase the effectiveness of decision-making, to generate a content that could be used for cyberattacks or to strengthen military capabilities. As AI technology is versatile, China is pursuing global dominance in the AI through a complex of measures:

Since 2020, China has tightened the regulation of emerging and disruptive technologies and the companies that develop them. In recent year, the National Data Bureau has been established, and measures for management of generative AI services as well as regulations for deepfakes have been introduced. The new regulation strengthens the regime’s efforts to control digital content and data collection and to oversee the application of AI.

A rapid development of AI technology in China is mostly determined by the size of the market, government subsidies for state-owned enterprises and AI projects as well as investment in technology hubs and research laboratories abroad. AI research in China is based on military-civil fusion that integrates different entities from both of these sectors – enterprises, universities, and other non-military institutions.

In 2023, Xi Jinping announced the launch of the Global AI Governance initiative. The aim of the initiative is to ensure equal rights for different countries in the development of AI technology. However, by initiating global regulations and shaping trends of technological development, China aims to create a favourable technological environment in the long term: the introduction of information and data governance based on state control.

According to Chinese defence plans, conventional warfare is gradually shifting to cognitive warfare, defined as the use of public opinion, psychological and legal means to achieve a victory. Although military actions that directly affect the cognitive function and emotions of an adversary is nothing new, AI makes such means more effective and difficult to detect, and therefore more threatening.

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