China is making great strides in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and  new technologies, and this is boosting its capacity to control the activities of ordinary Chinese citizens, curb on freedoms and violate rights.

By Asia News

Jul 13 2023

BEIJING – China is making great strides in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and  new technologies, and this is boosting its capacity to control the activities of ordinary Chinese citizens, curb on freedoms and violate rights.

In a long article yesterday, the Global Times, a newspaper published by the People’s Daily,[*] praised AI development in China, which is “gaining momentum despite increasingly fierce global competition and the US’ relentless push for ‘tech decoupling’.”

The article came out on the same day as Shanghai, China’s economic capital, kicked off the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC).

Experts and business insiders note that China still has ways to go before it becomes self-reliant in the high-tech sector, but they are confident that it can reach that goal, the Global Times notes.

At this year’s WAIC, large language models drew big crowds, a sure sign of China’s growing potential and attractiveness. One of the participants, NetEase Youdao showcases an interactive chatbot allowing language learners to practise spoken English with the AI model.

Another tech firm, Meituan, launched the 4.0 version of its unmanned aircraft system with a greater delivery range and better performance in poor weather conditions.

According to the 2022 Global AI Innovation Index Report released at the WAIC, China ranks second in the Global AI Innovation Index for the third consecutive year, boosting its talent pool and data infrastructures with additional technological breakthroughs.

Despite critics saying that the conference lost its shine this year, especially among US participants, the Global Times claims that it saw a record participation of companies; in view of this, it calls for “scientific and technological sharing and exchanges, aiming to contribute to global sci-tech development for the benefit of all mankind.”

Yet, despite pledges to promote development and progress, China continues to use new technologies like AI as tools of domestic repression, as it did with “online registers” for priests, pastors and imams, ostensibly to weed out “fake religious personnel”.

One of the latest examples of this use occurred last month, on 28 June, when two Christians, Mu En and Enoch Wang, were convicted of fraud. Mu received a sentence of three and a half years in prison and a fine of US$ 8,000, while Wang was given three years and a US$ 7,000 fine.

The two were convicted on evidence law enforcement obtained using technology to recover messages posted on WeChat, with the names and funds raised in the past five years on behalf of a Christian youth group.

According to the prosecution, the two youth leaders raised about US$ 240,00 via fraudulent means. For ChinaAid, a Christian human rights organisation, the trial and conviction are a deliberate attempt by Chinese communist authorities to use this kind of charge as a cover for religious persecution since “The two convicted Christians are entirely innocent “.

Chinese authorities also use the “illegal business” argument, as four members of the Shengjia Church found out after police raided its education centre on 24 May. As a result, Rev Deng Yanxiang and three co-workers were taken into custody and are now held at the Nanhai District Detention Centre in Foshan City.

During their raid, security forces searched the entire facility and confiscated all its educational equipment. – Asia News


[*] The official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).