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New US Restrictions on AI Another 'China Watch' Operation, Show Tech Hegemony - Analysts

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An AI interpretation of a Robot therapist advising a man - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.01.2024
This action is another example of Washington’s continuous tech hegemony, blockade
The Biden administration has been taking steps to prevent China from developing advanced technology, from high-end chips to artificial intelligence (AI). Recent remarks by the US commerce secretary on AI showed another "China watch" operation, which analysts said could hinder international cooperation, while again showing US hegemony in the scientific and technological sectors.
The Biden administration may require US cloud companies to determine whether foreign entities are accessing US data centers to train AI models, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Friday in an interview with Reuters.
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The proposal would require US cloud computing companies to verify the identity of foreign persons who sign up for or maintain accounts that utilize US cloud computing resources. A draft regulation was released on Friday for public comment and will be published on Monday, Reuters reported.
There may be an effect on China's AI sector for a short period, but the effect will decline over time, Wang Peng, an associate researcher at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.
"Such restrictions could hinder global technological innovation and collaboration and are also likely to further exacerbate divisions and rivalries in the global tech sector. Developments in areas such as big data and AI require data sharing and cooperation on a global scale," said Wang.
However, from the perspective of the independent, safe and controllable development of AI, China should try to use its own big data and computing power, Wang noted.
A Shenzhen-based chip industry insider told the Global Times on Sunday that in some core AI technologies, China is already at the forefront of the world, such as facial and voice recognition.
"China has made great progress in machine learning and natural language processing. Its AI technology has been applied in many fields, such as healthcare, finance and transportation, fueling the scale and speed of technological advancements," said the insider, citing new generative AI services from Tencent, Baidu, Huawei, Alibaba, ByteDance and other Chinese tech firms.
The insider pointed out that computing power, the availability of data training and algorithms are the three main ingredients for AI progress.
According to a white paper on global computing power released in September 2023, the US accounted for 34 percent of global computing power in 2022, while China accounted for 33 percent. The proportions remained flat from 2021.
If US cloud companies cannot provide services to foreign entities, it could limit the technological development of these companies in AI model training. Meanwhile, this could reduce their business opportunities on a global scale, Zhang Xiaorong, director of the Beijing-based Cutting-Edge Technology Research Institute, told the Global Times on Sunday.
"Unlike the US, China is actively promoting cooperation with other countries around the world to promote the development and application of AI technology. Therefore, even with big data restrictions by the US, China will continue to promote the development of the AI industry," the insider said.
In recent years, the Biden administration has repeatedly abused export control measures to maliciously block and suppress China in the high-tech sector, the insider stressed.
"I'm not surprised by Raimondo's remarks as the US remains committed to suppressing China's scientific and technological development. In general, this practice of the US reflects not only its hegemonic thinking in the field of science and technology, but also the contradictions in its policies toward China," the insider said, citing the recent high-level bilateral meeting.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a new round of meetings with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Bangkok, Thailand from Friday to Saturday. The two sides agreed to jointly implement the "San Francisco vision," including holding the first meeting of the China-US inter-governmental dialogue mechanism on AI this spring, according to a statement by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"The tech blockade by the US against China and the first dialogue mechanism on AI indeed show the complexity and contradictions in US policy toward China," said Wang Peng.
He noted that the US hopes to restrict China's sci-tech development and maintain its own sci-tech hegemony through blockades and suppression, while it also recognizes the need to cooperate with major powers such as China in the face of global challenges.
The global AI market is estimated to have reached $249.6 billion in 2023, with China's market at about $38.8 billion, accounting for 15.5 percent of the total, according to Dongfangqb.com, a Shanghai-based industry data provider.
A visitor walks past the stand of American multinational corporation Qualcomm at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the telecom industry's biggest annual gathering, in Barcelona on March 2, 2023. - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.10.2023
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By 2035, China's AI market is expected to reach 1.73 trillion yuan ($241 billion), accounting for 30.6 percent of the global market, according to a report released by the China Center for Information Industry Development on January 16.
But Wang Peng doubted if there would be substantive cooperation or progress arising from the first AI dialogue mechanism, as the bilateral foundation of trust and cooperation has been damaged, and it needs to be rebuilt through multi-faceted efforts and communication.
Zhang said that substantive cooperation is hard to come by in the current environment. However, dialogue is always good because it provides a platform where both sides can exchange views and understand each other's positions and concerns.

"China and the US need to find common interests on some key issues to promote substantive cooperation and progress," said Wang Peng.

The industry insider also pointed out that for China and the US, promoting cooperation and development in the field of science and technology on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit will require long-term attention and efforts.
This article was originally published by Global Times.
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