Once upon a time, Japan was widely expected to eclipse the United States as the technological leader of the world. In 1988, the New York Times reporter David Sanger described a group of U.S. computer science experts, meeting to discuss Japan's technological progress. When the group assessed the new generation of computers coming out of Japan, Sanger wrote, "any illusions that America had maintained its wide lead evaporated." Replace "computers" with "artificial intelligence," and "Japan" with "China," and the article could have been written today. In AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, which unsurprisingly became an instant bestseller, former Google China President Kai-Fu Lee argues that China's unparalleled trove of data, culture of copying, and strong government commitment to artificial intelligence give it a major leg up against the United States.
Tech giant Huawei's president has denied the firm has any links to Chinese spying operations. In a letter to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, the firm's president Ryan Ding insisted the firm was not involved with such practices. But a 2012 US House Intelligence Committee report outlined Huawei's links to the Chinese state, has since been picked up by other western governments, including Australia, Germany and the UK. FBI Director Christopher Wray has also suggested that the company's smartphones could be used to "maliciously modify or steal information." But Mr Ding insisted that Huawei had never and would never assist any country in gathering intelligence on other countries.
BT is removing Huawei technology from the phone networks amid fears that the Chinese government could be using its infrastructure to spy on citizens. The company says it will no longer use Huawei's equipment in its existing 3G and 4G networks, and that it would not use it to build the 5G ones that it is building at the moment. It is just the latest operator to announce that it would not use the Chinese companies equipment amid fears that phone messages they are relaying could be intercepted. New Zealand and Australia have stopped telecom operators using Huawei's equipment in new 5G networks because they are concerned about possible Chinese government involvement in their communications infrastructure. Huawei, the world's biggest network equipment maker ahead of Ericsson and Nokia, has said Beijing has no influence over its operations.
Global car makers are feeding real-time location information and dozens of other data points from electric vehicles to Chinese government monitoring centres, as President Xi Jinping steps up the use of technology to track Chinese citizens. The data-gathering generally happens without car owners' knowledge, the Associated Press found. More than 200 car makers selling electric vehicles in China -- including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Mitsubishi -- send at least 61 data points to government-backed monitoring platforms, under rules published in 2016. The firms say they are complying with local laws, which apply only to alternative energy vehicles. Chinese officials say the data is used for analytics to improve public safety, facilitate industrial development and infrastructure planning, and to prevent fraud in subsidy programmes.
Toyota Motor Corp. is aiming to triple car production in China by as soon as 2030 in a renewed push to make up lost ground in the world's biggest market, according to sources. Asia's largest automaker is targeting to manufacture 3.5 million vehicles annually in China around that year while boosting imports to the country to half a million vehicles, the sources said, asking not to be identified as the internal goal is private for now. Toyota can currently produce 1.16 million cars in China annually, and sold 1.3 million there last year to claim a market share of 4.5 percent. Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co. delivered more than 4 million each. The foray comes as Chinese officials warm to the hybrid technology that Toyota pioneered with the Prius, amid a realization that electric vehicles alone probably won't be able to achieve Beijing's ambitious environment targets, two of the people said.
China has already taken a significant step into Germany. In the Rheinhausen district of Duisburg, trains are now rolling across the site where steelworkers once fought unsuccessfully to save their mill in 1987 while shipyard cranes stack up containers on the banks of the Rhine River. This is the precise point where the New Silk Road, China's massive infrastructure project, comes to an end. The site in Duisburg is known as Logport I and it is one of the largest container ports in Europe. Twenty-five trains arrive each week at Terminal DIT, also known as the China Terminal, after having traveled the more than 10,000 kilometers from Chongqing across Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland. Four years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the inland port.
The autonomous vehicle division of Google's parent company will start hauling cargo using self-driving trucks, capping a busy week for next-generation shipping technology. Waymo, the driverless vehicle unit of Alphabet, announced a pilot programme that will have self-driving big rigs transport cargo to the company's data centres in Georgia. Several companies are vying to dominate the nascent self-driving vehicle industry, believing the technology will reshape how humans and goods travel. Waymo has already extensively tested autonomous cars intended to ferry people around. "Now we're turning our attention to things as well", the company said in a blog post, noting that driverless trucks pose unique tech challenges.
Technology and automotive companies touting self-driving cars as the future of transportation may have some work to convince San Franciscans, who keep attacking the vehicles. A third of traffic collisions involving autonomous vehicles in 2018 so far featured humans physically confronting the cars, according to data released by California. In one case, a taxi driver exited his cab and slapped the front passenger window of a General Motors Cruise parked behind him. No one was hurt, though the car sustained a scratch. In another case, a pedestrian hurtled across an intersection despite a "do not walk" sign, shouting as he went, and rammed his body into a different Cruise's rear bumper.
China's government is preparing for a war of sorts with the United States to claim the vantage point to define the technological trend for the next generation. At the annual meeting of China's parliament this week, the usual Communist Party agenda of economic growth, social welfare, jobs, health care and pension made way for an unusual addition: a clarion call by some of China's most influential business and technology leaders for the government to set policies to define what they consider the Next Big Thing. They include the founder of the largest Chinese internet search engine Baidu, the owner of smartphone maker Xiaomi, and the founder of Geely Automobile, which bought Volvo. They are tabling motions and proposals for the government to take the lead in getting Chinese enterprises to collaborate on artificial intelligence (AI) research, and facilitate the industrialising of the technology. AI made its way into Premier Li Keqiang's March 5 work report, a signal that it has caught the attention of China's top decision makers.