The Chinese military is making strides in its Artificial Intelligence endeavor, mainly because of leveraging foreign chips, primarily American.

The Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University (CSET) said in a June research paper that the Chinese army is placing orders for AI chips designed by U.S. companies and manufactured in Taiwan and South Korea. 

CSET concluded after analyzing 66,000 public contracts issued by the Chinese army. Twenty-four were related to the acquisition of high-end processors necessary for AI applications. Most of which were American creations.

The researchers identified 97 AI chips explicitly identified for purchase among the Chinese army contracts. Most came from Nvidia, Xilinx (now AMD), Intel, or Microsemi. Only one was made in China by Fudan Microelectronics, which was a knockoff of an American original.

Trump and Biden’s administrations have tried to restrict tech shipments to the Chinese military. However, none of the seven AI chip suppliers identified are named in the U.S. Entity List or Military End User List. 

The report highlighted that the U.S. government only bases its export restrictions on end-user regulations at present. However, such limited action cannot reasonably stop the Chinese military from acquiring cutting-edge chips through a third party.

The report stated, “In each case, PLA [People’s Liberation Army] units and state-owned defense companies awarded contracts for U.S.—designed chips to Chinese intermediary companies.”

A previous CSET report discovered that Intel had collaborated on research projects with the Chinese firm 4Paradigm. In addition, Nvidia had an active contract to provide AI decision-making software for the Chinese army.

Two years ago, chips from both companies were found to have been used by the Chinese regime to facilitate its surveillance system monitoring Uighurs in Xinjiang. Xinjiang is the country’s infamous region of concentration camps and human rights atrocities.

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