It would have been an arduous task for China to achieve cornerstone technology against the United States all by itself.
But it is a different story if the Asian country gets a hand from world tech masterminds, according to Peter Schweizer, the president of the Government Accountability Institute.
In an exclusive excerpt for the New York Post, Schweizer said that Silicon Valley elites have been the key players in having China win superiority over the West. But unfortunately, China is even able to make tech giants in its rival country “willingly, and sometimes enthusiastically, play along.”
Lu Wei, the former deputy chief of Beijing’s Propaganda Department, visited Silicon Valley in late 2014.
Facebook headquarters and its founder Mark Zuckerberg in California greeted his visit with reverence. The Facebook CEO gave Lu a tour around the new Frank Gehry–designed campus in person and took the Chinese official to his personal office.
Situated in there was a book titled “The Governance of China” on Zuckerberg’s desk.” Zuckerberg said it was so he and his staff could “understand socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
In the mainland, Lu was the leader of the Central Leading Group for Internet Security and Information. The position means that he is the head of China’s comprehensive censorship system. Just a year before his trip to the U.S., Beijing passed legislation on jailing people for up to three years for disseminating what the government deemed illegal content on the internet. The bill granted Lu enforcement power.
In 2015 came a different controversial incident about Zuckerberg’s attitude towards the U.S.’s adversary. At an official State Dinner at the White House, the Facebook founder requested Chinese leader Xi Jinping in person if the 7-month-old baby his wife was pregnant with would be called by Xi’s Chinese name. Xi said it was “too great a responsibility” and dismissed Zuckerberg.
In 2016, in collaboration with Google, Facebook selected Dr. Peng’s Telecom & Media Group, a Chinese firm, to develop an undersea cable connecting San Francisco to Hong Kong, China, and other Asian destinations. Dr. Peng was a close partner with Huawei and Chinese military defense contractors and was backed financially by the Chinese regime.
The cable project bore no good promise either. According to the Justice Department, the Facebook-Google cable provided an “unprecedented opportunity for Chinese government espionage.” As a result, the Federal Communications Commission blocked the project in 2020.
Schweizer commented, “How the tech giants did not see the obvious espionage risk to their plans is a mystery. Or maybe they saw it and did not care.”
Google announced the opening of an AI research center in Beijing in 2017. The personnel there would also be made up of a small group of researchers selected by “several hundred China-based engineers.”
Schweizer noted that the technology involved in the Google AI China Center was exactly what the Chinese regime would find tempting, as it requires a system that is capable of processing big amounts of data to classify, perceive, and predict outcomes.
The same year Google opened the facility in Beijing, China declared AI as a new focus on international competition.
Marine General James Dunford, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a U.S. Senate committee that, “The work that Google does is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military.”
Dunford later corrected that direct was a more relevant word to describe Google’s work with China.
Schweizer said Big Tech’s injudicious collaboration with China poses “enormous implications for our national security.” What was even more concerning was that China, governed by the Chinese Communist Party, would use technological advances to facilitate its authoritarian system.
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt warned in a report for the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence that “Authoritarian regimes will continue to use AI-powered face recognition, biometrics, predictive analytics, and data fusion as instruments of surveillance, influence, and political control.”
Schweizer believed it was hard for tech tyrants to ignore China’s promise of a vast amount of data, which is far more than what is allowed by Western governments.
How valuable are such data resources to these companies? Dr. Kai-fu Lee, a tech investor once said, “More data helps you more than any other algorithm.” Dr. Lee is also the author of the book “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, the New World Order.”
Schweizer believes that Tesla’s founder Elon Musk, is one of the prime examples of those who eventually bend down to China even despite his initial antagonism towards the Chinese regime.
Musk once complained that Chinese hackers stole Tesla’s software code. The breach was both a competitive and national security issue. That is also the software used for Musk’s SpaceX, which collaborates with the U.S. military.
He for years also declined that he had any intention to develop a plant in China despite the leakage of an internal transcript in 2015, which indicated Tesla was going to erect a factory there.
Then in March 2017, Tencent Holdings, a Chinese regime-linked company, purchased 5% of Tesla’s stocks. The company was also granted a $1.6 billion loan from Chinese regime-backed banks, with Chinese officials skipping regulatory requirements for Musk to build facilities in the mainland.
Musk visited China and talked with senior regime officials over an opening ceremony.
There, Vice Premier Li Keqiang offered him the opportunity to become a permanent resident in China.
Li said, “We hope your company can become an active participant in China’s opening and a proponent of China-U.S. relations stability.”
Li also requested Musk to help with the Trump administration’s penalties on several of Beijing’s technology and export policies. Schweizer said it also marked a point when Musk switched his attitude about China and the U.S. government.
Just last January, Musk downgraded the democratically elected U.S. administration and said that the Beijing regime was possibly “more responsible” to its people.
About China’s ability to influence even Musk, Miles Yu, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, said Tesla has been “hooked by advantageous tax and regulatory advantages.”
Yu said, “Once you’ve established a foothold in China and achieved some success, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) will not hesitate to use your investments in China as leverage to compel you to comply with a long list of demands, both explicit and implicit, including the sharing of private technologies and expertise.”