Military Capabilities

China’s AI ‘entanglement’ with Australia and US

05 July 2018
China’s CETC claimed in 2017 to set a new record for the number of UAVs launched in a swarm utilising AI technologies. A new paper argues that China’s increasingly close links with countries including Australia and the US are aiding the development of such capabilities. Source: Via CCTV

Beijing’s focus on developing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to support advances in both military and commercial domains is leading to increasingly strong ‘entanglement’ between Chinese agencies and counterparts in Australia and the United States, a new paper has said.

The paper, published recently by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPU), said these “strategic technology” partnerships have created a “dual-use dilemma” for countries such as Australia and the United States that are seeking to advance their own capability but are also wary of supporting Chinese military development.

“Despite the genuine advantages [partnerships] may offer, [they] can result in the transfer of dual-use research and technologies that advance Chinese military modernisation, perhaps disrupting the future balance of power in the Indo-Pacific, or facilitate the party-state’s construction of surveillance capabilities that are starting to diffuse globally,” the paper said.

“The core dilemma is that the Chinese party-state has demonstrated the capacity and intention to co-opt private technology companies and academic research to advance national and defence objectives in ways that are far from transparent.”

The ICPU paper went on to highlight a number of partnerships. These include a subsidiary of the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) – one of China’s state-owned defence groups – establishing an ‘innovation centre’ in Silicon Valley in the US in 2014; and CETC’s joint venture with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to establish in 2017 a centre for advanced research into science and technologies, including AI and autonomous systems.

The paper also highlighted collaboration between Chinese military researchers and Australia’s National University of Defence Technology and other agencies; Chinese communication firm Huawei’s research partnerships in the United States and Australia; and Germany’s strong links with China on advanced technologies such as robotics and AI.

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