In 2015, the Obama Administration held an official State Dinner at the White House for Chinese President Xi. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla, seven months pregnant, were there.
When the Zuck got to speak to Xi, he asked the communist dictator to give his unborn child a Chinese name. Xi declined.
It was not the first time the Facebook cofounder extravasated over a Chinese official.
A high-ranking Chinese official named Lu Wei visited the social media platform headquarters in 2014, he gave him a tour, including his private office. On the Zuck’s desk was a book of speeches and comments made by Xi.
The Zuck explained to his guest that he bought the book for himself and his staff as a guide.
“I want to make them understand socialism with Chinese characteristics,” the Zuck said.
Facebook teamed with Google and its CEO Eric Schmidt in 2016 to build an undersea cable linking San Francisco, Hong Kong, and China. They chose to partner with the Chinese company Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group to provide the link.
Dr. Peng, financially backed by the Chinese-linked China Securities Finance Corporation, worked closely with Huawei and military defense contractors in China. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission blocked the project, in 2020, saying it presented “‘unprecedented opportunities’ for Chinese government espionage,” according to the U.S. Justice Department.
In 2017, Google announced the opening of an AI research facility in Beijing. The Google AI China Center included “a small group of researchers supported by several hundred China-based engineers.”
Their research includes machine-learning that would classify, perceive, and predict outcomes based on massive amounts of data, precisely the sort of work that military and intelligence officials would want from AI. This cooperation happened the same year that the Chinese Communist Party laid out its “artificial intelligence development plan.”
The plan explains that “AI has become a new focus of international competition,” mastering that technology enhances “comprehensive national power,” and that it would lead to the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
Collaboration between American tech companies and Chinese military-linked research labs has enormous implications for our national security. As the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence announced in its final report, “Authoritarian regimes will continue to use AI-powered face recognition, biometrics, predictive analytics, and data fusion as instruments of surveillance, influence, and political control.”
The chair of that commission? Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk acknowledges that Chinese entities stole software code from his company Tesla, a competitive and national security problem. The same software used by SpaceX works closely with the U.S. military.
For years, Musk said he would never build a facility in China, claiming that he was happy with his production in the United States. But in 2015, transcripts of a meeting in China were leaked, indicating he had plans to build a factory there.
He quickly declared that the transcripts were inaccurate, refuting them on Twitter.
“My comments in China weren’t transcribed correctly. Tesla will keep making cars & batteries in CA & NV as far into future as I can imagine.”
Then in March 2017, Chinese government-linked Tencent Holdings bought a five percent stake in Tesla, followed by Beijing rolling out the red carpet as Chinese government-backed banks coughed up $1.6 billion in subsidized loans. And the regulatory red tape to build in China was eliminated by government authorities.
The plant got built in less than a year. And Musk has since become a Beijing booster.
In January 2021, he explained in an interview how Beijing was “more responsible” toward its people than the U.S. government.
“When I meet with Chinese government officials, they are always very concerned about this,” he said. “Are people going to be happy about a thing? Is this going to serve the benefit of the people? It seems ironic, but even though you have sort of a single-party system, they seem to care a lot about the well-being of the people. They are maybe even more sensitive to public opinion than what I see in the U.S.”