China: Path to Hi-Technology
Jayadeva Ranade

The world is on the threshold of major technology advances that will translate what has so far been in the realm of science fiction to everyday reality. There is clear promise of transformational changes, with the next couple of decades being witness to technology driving almost every aspect of life.

Signs of this are already visible in robotics; artificial intelligence; telecommunications, especially voice and data transmission; Internet of Things; seamless linkage of public utilities and items of everyday use; machine to machine communications; unmanned automobiles; biomedicine; and treatment of serious injuries to humans on the battlefield. In the race not to be left behind in a world of advanced technologies, the US, Russia, some European countries and China have been working on different aspects of these technologies for a while. Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam too have been getting ready to compete globally in 5G communications.

China is striving to progress in hi-tech research areas like organelles to build tissue for soldiers injured in war and 3-D printing to build weapons on the battlefield. It finalised a Civil-Military Fusion Programme so that hi-tech advances made by the military and civilian private industry could be pooled and optimised. China has made huge capital investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI), already crafted an AI policy and holds more patents than the US. Its PLA-affiliated information and telecommunications companies like Huawei and ZTE are exerting to roll out fifth generation (5G) networks across the world – Huawei is already present in fifty countries! China has also made great strides in quantum communications. Interestingly, though, Beijing has chosen to go in for the 5G networks of Ericsson and Nokia inside China!

Cognisant that advanced technology is the future, China has made clear that it is willing to suffer short-term pain to become a leading global power in technology. Despite its huge surplus manpower, China chose to train and upgrade manpower skills and opted for robotics in its factories. In 2017, China bought 36% of all factory robots in the world the previous year, more than any other country including the U.S., with the aim of boosting its own production of robots to become the pre-eminent technological superpower. By 2019, China had the largest number of factories using robotics. A consideration would have been the longer-term challenge that China faces of its working age population declining. China’s work force started to drop in 2012, with the slide gathering pace in the 2020s and predicted to fall by over 20 per cent, or around 210 million, by 2050. In other words, against the present about 7 workers for each retiree, by the 2040s, this will have fallen to 2.5 workers!

China's leadership was prescient in recognising the importance of advanced technology and its potential for varied applications. The 'Long March' era of Chinese leaders understood that without technology China could again be subject to "bullying" by major powers with Mao Zedong himself harbouring apprehensions about the U.S. and Soviet Union with their atom bombs. There have been three factors that put China on the track of acquiring and developing advanced technology. These were: (i) Mao's vision of the future China; (ii) dominance of the military in China's politics; and (iii) the wave of nationalist sentiment in the wake of China's "liberation" and leadership-led programme which combined to persuade Chinese scientists return to serve the Mainland.

This is reinforced by the substantive presence of senior Party cadres with scientific backgrounds. There are 14 members in the new 19th Central Committee (CC) of the Chinese Communist party (CCP) who have a background in academics and universities especially in aeronautical sciences indicating a focus on R&D and scientific research.

Three key areas will help provide a clear idea of China’s ambitions and goals. These are Civil-Military Fusion, also called Civil-Military Integration and which is the foundation for China’s S&T effort; Artificial Intelligence; and 5G, or fifth generation information and communications technology.

Civil-Military Fusion (军民融合)/Civil-Military Integration

Civil-military fusion (军民融合)-- also called ‘military-civil integration’ --is an important policy enunciated, with some variations, by Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping and is inextricably intertwined with China becoming an advanced world technology power as envisaged in ‘Made in China-2035’. The "China Military-Civilian Integration Development Report 2014" issued by the National Defense Economic Research Center of the PLA National Defense University revealed that China's military-civilian integration is around 30%. Xi Jinping acknowledged that many private high-tech enterprises in China are technologically advanced, have great potential for development and can tie up with traditional defence military enterprises to mutual advantage. On March 12, 2015, at the plenary meeting of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) delegation of the Third Session of the 12th National People's Congress of China Xi Jinping for the first time stressed the need for "Improving the integration of military and civilian development into a national strategy”. In January 2017, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee (CC) Political Bureau (PB) established a Central Military-Civilian Integration Development Committee, with Xi Jinping as its Chairman. The Central Military-Civilian Integration Development Committee is responsible for the in-depth development of military and civilian integration.

The CCP CC with “Xi Jinping as its core” closely links the development of military-civilian integration with the “realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. It promotes interaction between China's national defense construction and economic construction as the only way to realize the dream of strengthening the country and strengthening the military and, in effect, blends guarding national sovereignty, security, and development interests. Civil-Military Fusion has been backed by the heads of prominent Chinese military State owned Enterprises (SoEs). In March 2017, Peng Jianwei, President of the Beijing Modern Industrial Planning Research Institute, told China Enterprise News that the integration of military and civilian development as a national strategy is related to the overall situation of national security and economic development and the enthusiasm of social capital to participate in the military industry is constantly rising. He assessed that with more social capital participation, China's military-civilian integration process will continue to accelerate. He added, however, ‘it is undeniable that the current development of military-civilian integration in China is still facing a series of challenges such as insufficient channels, inadequate institutional and institutional barriers, and inadequate transformation of ideas and concepts, which has greatly affected the pace of military-civilian integration’.

Gao Hongwei, Chairman of the military industrial enterprise Aerospace Science and Technology, anticipated that “In 2017, the revenue of the military-civilian integration industry of the group company will reach 147 billion yuan” and that collaborative research and development of the military-civilian integration industry will gradually improve the research and development capabilities and combine innovation with entrepreneurship. More forthcoming was Lu Guangshan, Chairman of AVIC Aerospace, who said the military industry is a priority area for cutting-edge technology and a gathering place for disruptive innovation. "From the current point of view, China's military-civilian integration industry has a very broad prospect, such as general aviation, Beidou satellite navigation, commercial space launch, and network security. Every industry has market scale of trillions." Guo Zhengbiao, CEO of Nanjing World-based Space-Based Communication Technology Co., Ltd., who is a founder of a start-up and a serial entrepreneur, said there many entrepreneurs who are willing to participate in the "military and civilian integration." He said there are, however, many obstacles impeding such integration including mind-sets of discrimination against private enterprises, small size of private enterprises that lack adequate funds, technology, equipment etc., and unwillingness of some central enterprises to take risks and cooperate with small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Chinese authorities, including in the provinces, were quick to initiate efforts to promote Civil-Military Fusion and persuade private companies to participate in the joint development and manufacture of military equipment and systems. In September 2017, for example, Beijing held its third Integrated Military and Civilian Development Technology and Equipment Exhibition, at which 354 companies from across China displayed 422 new logistics and defence technologies., a privately run news and commentary website that is usually enthusiastic about the Party line, headlined its report (in Chinese) on the one-week exhibition of the ‘Third Military-Civilian Integration Development High-Tech Equipment Achievements and Forum’in Beijing. It observed that all 422 exhibits were “blackware” or “black technology” (黑科技/hēi kējì) — a slang term that refers to very advanced ‘alien’ weapons and technology. On April 9, 2018, Xi Jiayin, Chairman of the board of Directors of Evergrande Group announced the official entry of the group into the high-technology industry and signed a contract with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He declared that in the next ten years, Evergrande will invest 100 billion Yuan in the hi-tech areas of life sciences, aerospace, integrated circuit, quantum science and technology, new power sources, artificial intelligence, robotics and modern agricultural science and technology.

Other examples include the Beijing Civil-Military Integration Expo 2019 held in Beijing fromMay 6 to 8, 2019, to promote military-civil trade especially between China and countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. It displayed a wide range of dual-use military and civilproducts such as marine equipment, unmanned vehicles, communications systems, and network security products. The China Electronics International Exhibition Advertising Co Ltd, China National Electronics Import & Export Corp, CETC International Co Ltd, and Poly Defense Research Centre hosted the Expo which was held at the China International Exhibition Center (Jing'anzhuang Mansion).

Xinhua reported on February 26, 2019, that the PLA and Chengyang District in Qingdao are creating a Model for Deep Development of Military and Civil Integration. The person in charge of Chengyang District said the “Chengyang Military-Civilian Integration Industrial Park Project” would have a total investment of about 2.34 billion yuan to create a modernisation integrating technology R&D centre, business incubation, industrial agglomeration, academic exchange, and technology finance. It said a technical team of Professors and PhDs has undertaken the transformation of advanced technological achievements and market expansion of the PLA Information Engineering University and Qingdao Ocean University.

Latest statistics showed that Chengyang District has 20 military-civilian integration enterprises such as radar, electronic information and special vehicles, and the national high-speed train technology innovation centre. The integration development demonstration project library has a total investment of 1.5 billion Yuan. The city of Chongqing has proposed developing a model 5G network and applications demonstration with involvement from China Telecom, China Mobile, and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, a major defense industry conglomerate. Similarly, Sichuan plans to promote partnerships for military-civil fusion in 5G as Beijing develops the Zhongguonancun Science Park. At least 36 national-level industrial zones to promote Civil-Military Fusion have opened across China.

AI is another priority area for Civil-Military Fusion. The Financial Times last year published a photograph of Mao Yongqing, Head of the 28th Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group, which develops electronic warfare technology for the PLA and Yin Shiming, Vice President of Cloud Computing at Baidu, one of China’s privately owned internet groups at a conference in Nanjing. Mao Yongqing is one of a small group of state cadres entrusted by Chinese President Xi Jinping with the task of pushing the military into the era of Artificial Intelligence. Yin Shiming is an engineer who built his expertise at some of the most important western tech companies, including Apple. At the ceremony Mao Yongqing and Yin Shiming declared CETC and Baidu to be partners in a “joint lab for intelligent command and control technology” — the facilities that are used to direct military operations. Mao Yongqing lauded the deal as an example of “military-civil fusion”. Yin Shiming said CETC and Baidu should “work hand in hand to link up computing, data and logic resources to further advance the application of new generation AI technologies in the area of defence.”

Reporting on Civil-Military fusion, the PLA Daily (March 2, 2019, ) said that in the past 40 years of reform and opening up, China's private enterprises have accumulated a large number of advanced technologies and products through introduction, absorption, transformation and independent research and development. It said they have become the main force in national economic construction and a new force in the construction of national defense forces. It said by the end of 2017, nearly 10,000 private enterprises of the 27.72 million private enterprises in the country had entered national defense andmilitary construction. Thousands of private enterprises are deeply involved in the research, production, maintenance and technical services of weapons and equipment. Regrettably, the speed of the"civilian’s participation in army" and "military and civil integration" is still slow. In local areas and for a certain period of time, there is even a phenomenon of slowing down or stagnation. The door of the"Civilian’s Participation in Army" has been fully opened, and the barriers of "military-civil integration" have been basically dismantled. Asking why the above-mentioned phenomena occur in the integration of the military and the civilians, the PLA Daily said it is the special nature of military characteristics and market rules. Weapons and equipment are special products exported by military industry. It has inherent attributes such as monopoly production, targeted sales, complicated technology, difficult development, and high quality standards. This determines the characteristics of the military market with relatively small volume, strict control of plans, large changes in demand, long procurement cycle, and slow return on profits. Private enterprises have long been away from the military environment, the foundation is relatively weak, the products are relatively single, and the management is relatively loose, lacking competitive experience. It is imperative that we work hard and streamline procedures without reducing standards.

Pointing to the potential for Civil-Military fusion, official Chinese statistics state that there were more than 80,000 high-tech private enterprises in China in 2017, with the output value of more than 1,500 exceeding 100 million yuan. Some enterprises had reached or exceeded the military standard in the fields of new materials, electronics, information and other fields. Statistics disclosed, however, that less than 1% can presently participate in equipment research and production.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The “13th Five-Year Plan for Developing National Strategic and Emerging Industries” (2016-2020) identified AI development as the 6th among 69 major tasks for the central government to pursue. It received impetus after the 19th Party Congress in October 2017, when Chinese President Xi Jinping declared he would like to see China as ‘a scientific and technology superpower’.

China sees Artificial Intelligence (AI) as one of the leading technologies of the next decade with its predictive capabilities ensuring its application in maintaining social stability (predicting social unrest), military (graduating from informationisation to intelligentisation), medicine etc. The State Council formulated a AI superpower strategy (人工智能强国战略) which envisages an ambitious three stage process aimed at China leading the world in AI. It outlines: by 2020, China’s AI industry will be “in line” with the most advanced countries, with a core AI industry gross output exceeding RMB 150 billion (US$ 22.5 billion) and AI-related industry gross output exceeding RMB 1 trillion (US$ 150.8 billion); by 2025, China should reach a “world-leading” level in some AI fields, with a core AI industry gross output exceeding RMB 400 billion (US$ 60.3 billion) and AI-related industry gross output exceeding RMB 5 trillion (US$ 754.0 billion); by 2030, China is likely to become the world’s “primary” AI innovation center, with a core AI industry gross output exceeding RMB 1 trillion (US$ 150.8 billion) and AI-related gross output exceeding RMB 10 trillion (US$ 1.5 trillion). In other words, its three strategic phases of AI development are: (a) catching up to the most advanced AI powers, (b) becoming a world leader in AI, and (c) achieving primacy in AI innovation.

China has a limited talent pool of around 39,000 AI researchers, less than half of the size of the U.S. pool of over 78,000 researchers. With AI as a priority, the Chinese government has encouraged development of AI start-ups and enhanced efforts to bring back researchers from abroad under its ‘Thousand Talents Programme’ begun in 2008. The South China Morning Post reported on November 8, 2018, that the Beijing Institute of Technology, breaking new ground, has recruited 31 ‘patriotic’ youngsters straight from high school to begin training as the world’s youngest AI weapons scientists in a new AI weapons development programme. The 27 boys and four girls, all aged 18 and under, have been selected for the four-year “experimental programme for intelligent weapons systems” at the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) from more than 5,000 candidates. BIT is one of China’s top weapons research institutes, and the launch of the new programme underscores the importance China accords to the development of AI technology for military use. A BIT professor said “These kids are all exceptionally bright, but being bright is not enough. We are looking for other qualities such as creative thinking, willingness to fight, persistence when facing challenges. A passion for developing new weapons is a must … and they must also be patriots.” Each student will be mentored by two senior weapons scientists, one from an academic background and the other from the defence industry. After completing a short programme of course work in the first semester, the students will be asked to choose a speciality field, such as mechanical engineering, electronics or overall weapon design. They will then be assigned to a relevant defence laboratory where they will be able to develop their skills through hands-on experience. BIT launched the programme at the headquarters of Norinco, one of China’s biggest defence contractors, on October 28, 2018. BIT said after completing the four-year course, the students are expected to enrol in a PhD programme and become the next leaders of China’s AI weapons programme.

China at the same time began funding AI start-ups through “government guidance funds” (GGF) set up by local governments and state-owned companies. In two years since 2016 the Chinese government invested more than US$ 1 billion on domestic start-ups. The Hong Kong-headquartered Sun Hung Kai Financial has forecast that the quantum of funding flowing from GGFs is likely to eclipse China’s private venture capital (VC) investments. It cited as example that for the year 2016, GGFs set a total fund raising target of RMB 3.3 trillion (US$ 500 billion) vs. a RMB 2.2 trillion (US$ 330 billion) total raised by private funds. A report said that in parallel with accelerating AI development this would help tech companies incorporate party committees thereby promoting the Party’s goals. In the past few years, more than 35 tech companies, including Baidu and Sina, have created company party committees.

A Wuzhen Institute report said that between 2012 and 2016 Chinese AI firms received US$ 2.6 billion in investment funding. Another report from IT Juzi and Tencent Institute, however, offered a different estimation and said Chinese AI companies received 33.18% (US$ 9.6 billion) of the world’s AI funding. Global funding received by Chinese AI start-ups in 2017, jumped up and they received 48% of the total global funding. The report assessed the growth in China’s AI scene over the past year alone as astronomical. Xinhua on December 9, 2018, quoted the latest report by Bloomberg Intelligence (BI), which said that China's core AI industry could exceed US$ 145 billion by 2030 with that of AI-enabled industries more than 10 trillion yuan. The Bloomberg report titled "China's great tech leap forward" said that China's push to commercialize AI technologies, supported by the rollout of the world's biggest 5G network, could position the country as a global leader for technology and innovation. The report said "China may overtake the U.S. in global technology-patents share by 2025". AI-related industries may exceed 6 percent of China's GDP by 2030. According to Tsinghua University, private funding for Chinese AI-related companies in 2017 totalled US$ 27.7 billion dollars, equivalent to 70 percent of global investments in the industry. Data showed China's cumulative venture-capital investments in AI start-ups had already caught up with the United States by 2016.

Tsinghua University is the lead university for AI in China and is ranked second in the world in the number of high-level papers published in the field of AI in the past decade, indicating that Tsinghua University is among the world’s advanced institutes in AI basic theory and methods. An authoritative report released by it in 2018, revealed that it has established a number of AI research bases, most with military related research. Among these arethe State Key Laboratory of Intelligent Technology and Systems (智能技术与系统”国家重点实验室) established in 1990; the Intelligent Microsystems Ministry of Education Key Laboratory (智能微系统教育部重点实验室) of the CMC Science and Technology Commission National Defense Frontier Innovation Special Zone (国防前沿创新特区); the CMC Science and Technology Commission’s High-End Laboratory for Military Intelligence (军事智能高端实验室); “Tsinghua Brain and Intelligence Laboratory” (清华脑与智能实验室) established in 2017; and interdisciplinary research center, the “Tsinghua University Intelligent Unmanned Systems Research Center.”

In the commercial AI ecosystem, the Chinese government actively picks winners in the AI space. For example, in November 2017, it designated Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and iFlyTek to lead the development of national AI innovation platforms in self-driving cars, smart cities, computer vision for medical diagnosis, and voice intelligence, respectively. Later, in August 29, the South China Morning Post disclosed that China has named Huawei Technologies and Hikvision Digital Technology as new ‘national champions’ in artificial intelligence (AI). The two are the latest batch of ten companies tasked to spearhead efforts in that field with the others including Xiaomi,, Qihoo 360, Megvii and Yitu.

Much of China’s research on AI is focussed on its military applications. Chinese military experts refer to changing the PLA’s goal from that of informationisation to intelligentisation. The predictive aspect of AI appears to be of special interest with its application in, what China euphemistically describes as, ‘stability maintenance’ to anticipate social unrest. The establishment of the “Tsinghua Brain and Intelligence Laboratory” in 2017 confirms that research is underway on predicting the behaviour of military adversaries.

The U.S. think-tank Jamestown Foundation reported that in early 2019, PLA Senior Colonel Li Minghai, Director of the National Security Studies Institute at NDU and Deputy Secretary of NDU’s Communist Party Committee, published a pair of articles that offered a new set of terms and theoretical ideas related to the incorporation and operationalization of AI by the PLA. Li Minghai introduced a new term: the “algorithm game” (suanfa boyi, 算法博弈), which was presented in the context of conflict between first-tier military forces in a dawning age of “intelligentized warfare” (zhinenghua zhanzheng, 智能化战争). The author pointed out that the terms have been used since 2017, including by Professor An Bo of Nanyang Engineering University, who discussed how AI and algorithmic game theory will allow the more efficient deployment of resources for a broad range of domestic security missions. Discussions of “intelligentized” warfare have also been used with increasing frequency by PLA writers in recent years suggesting a nascent effort to develop a doctrinal framework for how AI and game theory could be integrated into future military operations by the PLA. This would connect to PLA ambitions to seek battlefield information and command superiority, as well as effectively control escalation in a future armed conflict.Separately, Adam Ni, China researcher from Macquarie University in Sydney, said that China has set up two major research organisations focused on AI unmanned systems and China’s pursuit of artificial intelligence for the PLA aims at leveraging the emerging technology to enhance national power. He added that the PLA Daily in November carried a description of a swarm of drones, operated by a cloud “brain”, that could detect a target enemy and automatically attack. He said future “intelligent” wars will be fought with smart weapons and systems, supported by AI and capable of analysing situations, undertaking tasks and missions on their own.

5G Communications Technology

The fifth generation of information and communications technology, or 5G, is viewed in the West as the next big change after the industrial revolution. According to a report issued by the Asia Studies Centrein U.K. in May this year, the fifth generation of wireless networks (5G) will deliver a profound change in latency, data speed and volume, allowing for new technologies – such as agricultural or delivery drones, self-driving vehicles, and other data-driven tech. The 5G equipment is complicated and will play a major part in the economic and national security of nations. Concerns about security arise because it is much faster than the 4G with huge numbers of channels and will link literally millions of pieces of equipment in the world. China’s Huawei has emerged as a leader in this sector with a presence in over 50 countries. It is presently establishing AI nodes in approximately 30 countries along the Digital Belt and Road Initiative.

Two main considerations weighing with prospective buyers of 5G are expense and national security. Additionally, there are very few providers in the market. Ericsson and Nokia are the two European companies and China’s Huawei is the other. South Korea’s Samsung, Taiwan and Vietnam are about to ready their systems. However, 5G equipment supplied by Ericsson and Nokia cost twice as much as that of Huawei. Countries, therefore, have three choices: pay almost double the cost for ensuring national security, especially since the European companies can be expected to resist government pressure to tap communications; try and upgrade their existing 4G system, which is feasible but will not give the same speed and capabilities as 5G; and opt to continue with the present system till they develop one indigenously or purchase a lower priced 5G from South Korea, Taiwan or Vietnam. Countries like India that are unlikely to need 5G, except for limited data and voice communications, for the next 3-4 years can consider the third option.

Unlike the old 4G where antennae were on the periphery away from the core, the 5G network relies upon a complicated series of active advanced multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) antenna closely integrated with the hardware and software required for transmission and reception of radio signals, and signal processing algorithms to support the execution of the entire system. The antennae control the radiation pattern, gain, bandwidth, polarisation, and frequency range and power across the network. The key to multiple input multiple output (MIMO) and the ability to control multiple data streams using the same time and frequency resource is the ‘antenna’. Whoever controls the antenna controls the network. Experts say it is possible for the systems provider, like Huawei for example, to insert a ‘backdoor’ within the antennae and allow it to stay dormant till required. It is very unlikely to be detected by even technically advanced and proficient agencies. Worth note is that certain antennae and microwave equipment for Huawei’s 5G are produced by the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), a state-owned defense conglomerate.

A British ‘Risk Analysis of Huawei 5G’ by Nicholas Weaver (April 17, 2019) states that Huawei uses, like much of the rest of the world, a complex code, but written in an “unsafe” manner, using “unsafe” languages. He assessed that the scale and complexity make it impossible to analyse the code to look for new bugs, let alone efforts at sabotage. Sabotage itself can be very hard
to detect even when one does have the source code, and even if discovered
it can also be almost indistinguishable from a “mistake.” A former senior officer of an American Intelligence agency confided that Britain’s GCHQ, after examining Huawei’s 5G network systems, had informed him that in addition to other concerns the engineering of its system was poor.

While evaluating 5G network systems India needs to give prime consideration to national security and the fact that the 5G system will expose and render vulnerable the entire communications traffic, whether it is civil or military. Depending on the provider, the communications of officials, senior leaders and politicians will be vulnerable to interception. China has an adversarial relationship and a 4057-kms long border with India. Its comprehensive relationship, including Intelligence sharing, with its “iron brother” Pakistan adds to India’s concerns. Huawei itself has very close documented links with China’s military and security establishments and receives ‘preferential’ treatment. The ‘Civil-Military Fusion Programme’ has blurred even the thin line that might have existed. Its bonds with the CCP are evident from its founder Chairman Ren Zhengfei being a CCP member and Huawei having 12,000 CCP members among its employees and 300 CCP branches by 2007. Huawei’s Chairwoman from 1999 to 2018, was Sun Yafang, who previously held senior posts in the Ministry of State Security as well as Chinese Government research centres.

As China works towards developing AI for ‘predictive’ battlefield capability and upgrading the PLA from an “informationised’ force to an ‘intelligentised’ force, Huawei will play an important contributory role. Already the ingress by Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE and products like PayPal, Xiaomi and Tik-Tok into the Indian telecommunications market facilitates collection of huge volumes of personal data on Indians. China can well use this for building AI’s predictive capability for military or strategic use. It is clear that China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) is interested in large data sets of government officials for refining predictive capability. An example was the MSS hacking into the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and stealing more than 22 million records of U.S. government officials. Using AI and big data sets China has begun to develop smart city technologies to track and shape the political behaviour of its population.

As briefly illustrated, China has made rapid advances in future advanced technologies. These, like AI and 5G networks are mainly dual-use technologies. While China’s effort is driven primarily by domestic security and strategic military considerations, commercial factors play an important role. Noticeable is how China’s leadership entrusted policy making and implementation to experts, specialised universities and high powered government bodies. It has also broken new ground, for example by recruiting candidates directly from schools for moulding them into weapons experts. As China narrows the gap, its effort to reach the level of the world’s advanced technology powers has met obstacles. The U.S. trade war has specifically targeted China’s technology sector, or ‘Made in China-2035’ programme. China which has been dependent on four foreign companies for its supply of Graphic semi-conductors and laser micro-chips vital for AI and 5G is now scrambling to develop its own capability. Tighter controls by the West on these supply chains will hamper China’s efforts which can mean delays in meeting target deadlines.

  1. ‘Tsinghua’s Approach to Military - Civil Fusion in AI’ – May 2018 (in Chinese)
  2. ‘China: Emerging Cyber Power’ – ‘China Unveiled: Insights into Chinese Strategic Thinking’ by Jayadeva Ranade, 2013
  3. ‘Defending our Data: Huawei, 5G and the Five Eyes – Bob Seely MP, Dr Peter Varnish OBE, Dr John Hemmings (Asia Studies Centre, Henry Jackson Society, May 2019)
  4. ‘Risk Analysis of Huawei 5G’ – Nicholas Weaver and forward by Sir Richard Deerlove, former Head of SIS (April 2019)
  5. military affairs – September 22, 2017

(The author is a former Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India and is presently President of the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy.)

(The paper is the author’s individual scholastic articulation. The author certifies that the article/paper is original in content, unpublished and it has not been submitted for publication/web upload elsewhere, and that the facts and figures quoted are duly referenced, as needed, and are believed to be correct). (The paper does not necessarily represent the organisational stance... More >>

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