UN adopts Chinese resolution on closing AI gap

By Global Times   |    2024-07-03 15:12:16

Washington urged to reverse decision on AI investment restrictions in China

The US' recent move targeting investments in artificial intelligence (AI) in China is not helpful to the healthy development of the technology and will lead to divisions in global governance, China's envoy to the UN said, after the UN adopted a Chinese resolution on closing the gap in access to AI.

The actions taken by the US - referring to recent draft rules calling to ban or require notification certain investments in AI and other technology sectors in China that could threaten US national security - have not created an inclusive business environment, Fu Cong, China's permanent representative to the UN said. The Chinese envoy urged the US to reverse its decision.

The US Treasury Department last month issued draft rules that would restrict and monitor US investments in China for AI, computer chips and quantum computing. The proposed rules followed an executive order signed by US President Joe Biden last August that aim to curb China in developing sophisticated technology.

"We do not believe that the position or decisions of the US government will contribute to the healthy development of AI technology itself, and will instead divide the world in terms of regulatory standards and rules for AI," Fu said, according to media reports.

Fu's remarks came after the 78th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution proposed by China and co-sponsored by over 140 countries on strengthening international cooperation in the capacity building of AI.

"The goal is to help all countries, especially developing ones, equally benefit from AI development, bridge the digital divide, improve global AI governance, and accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," the ambassador said.

The resolution is in line with the core principles of China's proposed Global AI Governance Initiative, namely, China's advocacy for a people-centered and benevolent AI principle, as well as its consistent stance on enhancing cooperation for developing countries, Zhu Rongsheng, an expert from Tsinghua University's Center for International Security and Strategy, and a research fellow at the Yuanzhanlue think tank, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Major powers have already shown signs of competition, even escalating signs, in this field. If this trend continues, in future the gap between major and smaller nations, or between technologically strong and weak countries, may widen, Zhu said in an explanation of why China's proposed capacity-building resolution to bridge the digital divide is crucial.

It reflects China's position as a responsible major country and its concept of jointly promoting the dividends of technology development for the benefit of all humanity, Zhang Linghan, an expert with the UN High-Level Advisory Body on AI, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Regardless of size, strength or social system, all countries have an equal right to develop and utilize AI, a technology that may bring about profound changes in social production and the global landscape, Zhang said. It demonstrates China's stance as a developing country and a member of the Global South, she said.

The resolution encourages international cooperation and practical actions to help countries, especially developing countries, strengthen their AI capacity building, enhance their representation and voice in global AI governance, and advocate for "an open, fair, and non-discriminatory business environment."

The resolution reflects the extensive consensus among countries on enhancing AI capacity-building and speaks volumes about the political will of countries on enhancing capacity-building and bridging the AI divide through solidarity and cooperation, Mao Ning, a spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry said at Tuesday's press briefing. She said the resolution stresses the importance of increasing the representation and say of developing countries in global AI governance.

The UN resolution proposed by China also gained US backing, and when in March the US rallied support for a UN resolution aimed at promoting "safe, secure and trustworthy" AI systems worldwide, China also backed the US, media reports said.

Mao said China commends the US and other UN Member States for actively participating in the consultation on the UNGA draft resolution for enhancing international cooperation on AI capacity-building. She welcomed relevant parties to exchange insights in the spirit of extensive consultation and joint contribution for shared benefit, to build consensus and promote the healthy, safe and orderly development of AI at the 2024 World Artificial Intelligence Conference to be held in Shanghai from July 4-6, which will contribute toward establishing an open, fair and effective governance mechanism.

Competition and cooperation between China and the US in the field of AI governance coexist. While the US emphasizes "security" and China focuses on "development" in their UN resolutions, both are crucial for future development of the technology, Zhang said.

But the US should stop unreasonable suppression, especially by drawing ideological lines that maliciously obstruct the development of AI in other countries, Zhang stressed.

The US' decoupling push against China, driven by a desire to maintain its hegemony, is detrimental to fostering a cooperative atmosphere for either major powers or for cooperation between major powers and other countries, Zhu told the Global Times.

UN adopts Chinese resolution on closing AI gap