US

Senior Pentagon Official: China Misapplies Emerging Technologies

By Kitty Wang

A Department of Defense official has voiced his concern about China’s surveillance state and the technologies that support it.

During the Asia Security Summit in Singapore, U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan presented a photo to China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, which shows a North Korean vessel smuggling oil with another vessel via a ship-to-ship method in Chinese waters.

Randy Schriver, Assistant Secretary for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, US Department of Defense said, “I mean a country that can use facial recognition to identify individuals driving down a highway in Shanghai, can surely apply those capabilities to find out what’s going on in their territorial waters and contribute to UN sanctions enforcement. So there’s a misapplication of these emerging technologies.”

Schriver said the United States is very concerned about the Chinese Communist Party building up its ‘security state’ using emerging technologies, and exporting this model.

“It’s not only exporting an ideology of authoritarianism, it’s exporting the technical capabilities to enable authoritarian regimes, which we view as being illiberal states lead to corruption, lead to potential transnational crimes, transnational issues, such as terrorism,” Shriver said.

Many experts believe that the current U.S.-Sino high-tech competition is actually a competition between two governing systems.

James Mulvenon, Vice-President of Defense Group Inc.’s Intelligence Division said, “This is why frankly we’re blocking Huawei from its development in the United States because we don’t believe that Huawei’s technology is politically neutral. We believe that Huawei’s technology will have embedded in it the Chinese model of social control.”

The Pentagon published the first “Indo-Pacific Strategy Report” on June 1, saying that China is a revisionist power which undermines the international system from within, by exploiting its benefits while simultaneously eroding the values and principles of rules-based order.

Schriver said he believes that strategic competition is more defining and will be the trajectory of the US-China relationship, likely to continue in the long run. “We’re under no illusion of the kind of partner we have here with the PLA and with the PRC more broadly,” he said.