Beijing is accelerating its bid for global leadership in key technologies, planning to pump more than a trillion dollars into the economy through the rollout of everything from wireless networks to artificial intelligence (AI). In the master plan backed by President Xi Jinping himself, China will invest an estimated $1.4 trillion over six years to 2025, calling on urban governments and private tech giants like Huawei Technologies Co. to deploy fifth generation wireless networks, install cameras and sensors and develop AI software that will underpin technologies from autonomous driving to automated factories and mass surveillance. The new infrastructure initiative is expected to drive mainly local giants, from Alibaba and Huawei to SenseTime Group Ltd., at the expense of U.S. 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 program. Such initiatives have already drawn fierce criticism from the Trump administration, resulting in moves to block the rise of Chinese technology companies such as Huawei.
If this year's General Assembly at the United Nations is any indication, then the next two years are going to be absolutely fundamental to the future development of cyberspace. On one hand, there are nations such as Russia and China that are pushing their own view of "state sovereignty" for cyberspace. And, on the other hand, there is the United States and its allies that are pushing for a "free, open and secure" cyberspace. While there is some overlap between these two competing visions of the future of cyber governance, there are some important distinctions. In fact, the United States and its allies (a group of 26 other predominantly Western nations) felt so concerned that the UN might be headed in the wrong direction as a result of the whole "state sovereignty" approach backed by Russia and China that it sent out a joint statement on what constitutes responsible state behavior in cyberspace ahead of the UN General Assembly's General Debate.
Dennis Honrud's family has been farming wheat in eastern Montana for three generations. Unashamedly old school, Honrud sows only half his 6,000 acres, leaving the rest fallow to avoid soil depletion. "There's not many of us left," he laments. Like many workers in the global economy, the 68-year-old needs to stay connected, in his case to monitor crop prices and weather updates from his green John Deere tractor. So he asked a telecom provider to put a cell tower in his backyard. The Honrud property in Glasgow, Mont., is so remote that it wasn't well covered by any of the big four American carriers–Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.
In August, the US government announced the release of $ 1 billion in financing to ensure "that the United States continues to lead the world in artificial intelligence and quantum computing," according to US chief technology officer Michael Kratsios. It seems that the money came too late: for the first time, China surpassed the US in number of AI patents, with more than 110,000 applications filed last year. The news was given by the deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies, Li Yuxiao at a press conference on the 23rd, during the 7th World Internet Conference (WIC). "China is strengthening its independence in information technology on the Internet," he said, without mentioning how many AI patents have been registered by the United States. During the event, two studies were presented on Chinese efforts to develop the internal digital economy.
At a new 400-acre research-and-development center on China's south coast, Huawei Technologies Co. engineers chat, tap at their phones or chill out on a small electric tram that whirs them between buildings modeled variously on the Sorbonne or England's great universities. They move through neighborhoods built in the style of Versailles or Renaissance Italy, passing by some of the 3,000 gardening and maintenance staff needed to keep the vast parklands immaculate. It's late July, and on this Disneyland-like corporate campus about an hour and a half's drive from Hong Kong, Huawei seems to be basking in the wealth from its leadership in 5G mobile technology. No other company has done more to project the image of a technologically advanced China on the international stage. And no other company stands as a greater symbol of China's engagement with the outside world.