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Artificial intelligence - China's race for global dominance

China is already the world’s second largest ICT market place. By 2020 the market is estimated to reach USD 850 billion. For the Chinese government, digital, ICT an AI market is not only seen as a business, but it is increasingly seen through national security and social stability lenses. Furthermore, policies to ensure security often appear to do so at the expense of foreign companies. The Cyber Security Law from 2017 has increasingly tightened the operational landscape for foreign companies in China.

Access to large quantities of data is an important factor behind the AI development. This is clearly China’s competitive advantage. However, China’s AI capabilities are still behind of the US, especially in hardware, research and algorithms and the commercialisation of the industry. In some areas, however, China has been fairly succesful, and has already overtaken the US, such as in Artificial Intelligence start-up funding. By 2030, the current investments are estimated to create a USD 150 billion AI industry in China, same year as the govenrment has announced that China plans to become the world’s dominant power in all aspects of artificial intelligence, military and otherwise. The number of academic research papers in the field of deep learning published in China has also exceeded the US. China is also advancing in quantum information sciences, a field that could boost the overall AI development and simultanously provide various military applications. The other side of China’s AI race is the deployment of these technologies in survailling not only China’s own citizens but also foreigners using for instance WeChat app. According to less than a year old Cyber Security Law, including the Multi-Level Protection Scheme, foreign firms are prohibited from operating numerous digital services in China without a JV structure. All data must stay in China which obviously requires servers to be established in China, in some cases manufacturing too.

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