From AI to facial recognition: How China is setting the rules in new tech

In its bid to rival the United States, Beijing wants to establish the industrial standards that will shape future industries

Standard-setting has for decades largely been the preserve of a small group of industrialised democracies. But China now has other ideas. Experts say an intensifying US-China battle to dominate standards, especially in emerging technologies, could st
Standard-setting has for decades largely been the preserve of a small group of industrialised democracies. But China now has other ideas. Experts say an intensifying US-China battle to dominate standards, especially in emerging technologies, could start to divide the world into different industrial blocs.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG/BEIJING • Mr Zhao Houlin is head of the United Nations' telecommunications agency, an independent international arbiter that sets some of the rules shaping the modern technology industry. But that does not stop him from letting his patriotism burst into the open.

A former government official in China, Mr Zhao has repeatedly lionised the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping to invest in overseas infrastructure. He has also defended Huawei, the controversial Chinese telecoms champion, against the United States' accusations that its equipment can be used for espionage.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2020, with the headline 'From AI to facial recognition: How China is setting the rules in new tech'. Print Edition | Subscribe