EXC: Apple, Amazon, Microsoft Attended Chinese Communist Party’s AI Conference Alongside Chinese Military Proxies


Corporates including Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple have participated in the Chinese Communist Party’s World Artificial Intelligence Conference every year since its 2018 inception, an event that bolsters collaboration between Chinese government and military-linked companies and their American technology and healthcare companies.

The event, organized annually by seven branches of the Chinese government and featuring dozens of high-level Chinese Communist Party (CCP) apparatchiks as speakers, seeks to be the “top platform for AI cooperation and exchange.”

State-owned enterprises and companies including Huawei — banned from operating in the U.S. by the Trump administration for providing the CCP backdoor access to its devices and identified by the Defense Department as a Chinese military proxy — are listed as Strategic Partners of the event.

In addition to Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) sponsoring the event, Corporate Vice President and Head of Research at Microsoft Peter Lee, who was appointed to the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity by President Barack Obama, and Amazon’s Vice President of Machine Learning Swami Sivasubramanian addressed the conference.

Apple’s Vice President and Managing Director of Greater China Isabel Ge Mahe also spoke at the event along with Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla.

Musk has spoken at the event every year since its inception, commenting in 2020:

“I am always amazed by how many smart and hardworking people that are in China and how much positive energy here is and that people are really excited about the future.”

Strategic Partners of the 2020 WAIC

The conference also pushed for Chinese AI to make a foray into healthcare.

Executives from AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceutical manufacturer, joined the conference “looking to solve 10 real-world problems with partners.”

Such collaboration is concerning in light of the CCP’s willingness to use artificial intelligence (AI) to implement its surveillance state against its own citizens and repress Uyghurs in Xinjiang province – as Xi noted in 2013: “High-end science and technology is a national weapon in modern times.”

And the CCP is keen on weaponizing AI as part of its quest for global dominance, as even privately-owned companies can be requisitioned by the party per its National Intelligence Law demanding that “any organization or citizen shall support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work in accordance with the law.”

In other words, any of the Chinese companies seeking to collaborate with American entities attending the event could be lawfully compelled to relinquish data to the CCP.

What’s more, the conference’s explicit purpose is to carry out CCP diktats and assist in China’s quest to become the world’s technological capital:

“In order to deepen the integration of the Internet, big data, artificial intelligence and the real economy as required by the Party’s 19th National Congress, better serve the national innovation-driven development strategy, follow the international trend of new round of technology revolution and industrial reform and to develop Shanghai into a globally known center of science and innovation.”

For decades, American corporates have sought expanded market access in China, neglecting national security and data privacy concerns in the name of profit.

And now, your personal information is on the line.

Natalie Winters

Natalie Winters is freelance reporter.

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