China has been using robotics in its manufacturing for quite some time, and it has some very powerful AI tools as well that automate processes in its factories. This is going to push other countries to match China, particularly the USA.
However, while America may be regarded as a world leader in tech, China’s President Xi has a plan to take that role for his country, and ensure that China is not using US-made tech either.
In an article published by the South China Morning Post, in May of 2020, President Xi presented his vision for China and his goal of achieving global tech supremacy by 2025. This is an extract from the piece:
“Beijing is accelerating its bid for global leadership in key technologies, planning to pump more than a trillion dollars into the economy through the roll-out of everything from next-generation wireless networks to artificial intelligence (AI).
In the master plan backed by President Xi Jinping himself, China will invest an estimated 10 trillion yuan (US$1.4 trillion) over six years to 2025, calling on urban governments and private hi-tech giants like Huawei Technologies to help lay 5G wireless networks, install cameras and sensors, and develop AI software that will underpin autonomous driving to automated factories and mass surveillance.
The new infrastructure initiative is expected to drive mainly local giants, from Alibaba Group Holding and Huawei to SenseTime Group at the expense of US companies. As tech nationalism mounts, the investment drive will reduce China’s dependence on foreign technology, echoing objectives set forth previously in the “Made in China 2025”programme. Such initiatives have already drawn fierce criticism from the Trump administration, resulting in moves to block the rise of Chinese tech companies such as Huawei.”
Tim Bajarin in Forbes, asks us to consider Xi’s use of the term, “tech nationalism.” He explains that Xi plans to “nationalise everything in China so it is the main provider of goods, services and tech-related products to China itself.” He wants China to be completely self-sufficient in tech by 2025, and nationalised tech will “receive a huge financial boost from China’s $1.4 trillion dollar fund.”
In early September former Google CEO Eric Schmidt commented that China’s leadership in AI posed a security threat and could lead to “high-tech authoritarianism” worldwide.
According to Bajarin, the US government is aware of the problem, but so far nobody knows exactly what actions it might take. Will it counter China’s influence by remaining a tech powerhouse, or what? If China is successful in fulfilling Xi’s vision, then it is also likely that “there could be a time when products we get from China are no longer available to the west.” Currently, China is still committed to globalisation, so its products will continue to reach us, but if it scales back on that, then those products will need to be sourced elsewhere. The question is, where might that source be? It is time the USA and any other countries likely to be negatively affected by a lack of good from China form a plan – the clock is ticking!