UN Adopts China-Proposed Resolution on Closing AI Gap

July 3, 2024

UN Adopts China-Proposed Resolution on Closing AI Gap

On July 1, the 78th United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution initiated by China. The resolution, co-sponsored by over 140 nations, including the United States, emphasizes the principle of “equal opportunity” for all countries in non-military AI applications. It calls for enhanced global cooperation to assist developing nations facing “unique challenges” and ensure they are not left behind in the AI revolution.

Following the resolution’s adoption, China’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Fu Cong, stressed that unilateral approaches to AI and digital technologies would benefit no one. The resolution upholds the UN’s central role in international cooperation.

Rapid global AI advancements profoundly impact national socio-economic development and human progress. However, most countries, particularly developing nations, lack access to and the ability to utilize AI, exacerbating the global digital divide.

Just months prior to China’s initiative, the UN General Assembly adopted its first-ever global AI resolution, spearheaded by the United States and supported by China and over 120 other countries. This resolution urged nations to safeguard human rights, protect personal data, and monitor potential AI risks throughout the AI system lifecycle.

Fu Cong emphasized that these two resolutions are “complementary,” with China’s initiative focusing on capacity building.

China has consistently advocated for incorporating developing countries’ voices into AI governance discussions. Last year, China proposed the Global AI Governance Initiative, declaring that “all countries, regardless of size, strength, or social system, have the equal right to develop and utilize AI.”

During the inaugural China-US AI Governmental Dialogue in Geneva this May, China expressed its support for strengthening global AI governance and advocated for the UN’s central role. Observers perceive China’s efforts as safeguarding its voice in shaping global AI standards, preventing the US from unilaterally dictating AI regulations.

Premier Li Qiang is slated to attend the 2024 World Artificial Intelligence Conference and the High-Level Meeting on Global AI Governance. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Cyberspace Administration of China, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the National Standards Administration jointly issued a document outlining plans to formulate over 50 new national and industry standards for China’s AI industry.

Currently, the US and China remain engaged in a technological rivalry, particularly in AI and semiconductor advancements. The US has revised regulations to further restrict China’s access to cutting-edge AI chips and other technologies. Fu Cong urged the US to lift these sanctions in accordance with the UN resolution, emphasizing the importance of fostering an “inclusive business environment.” He asserted that US actions contradict this principle.


Chinese Rocket Explosion Raises Safety Concerns in Booming Commercial Space Industry

The botched rocket test by Chinese commercial space company Space Pioneer has ignited controversy.

During a static fire test on June 30, a first-stage rocket from Space Pioneer’s Tianlong-3 unexpectedly separated from the launchpad and took flight. The runaway rocket ultimately crashed and disintegrated in a mountainous area.

As a unicorn company in China’s private space sector, Space Pioneer has completed 15 rounds of financing in its five years of existence, with total funding exceeding 4 billion yuan and a valuation of over 12 billion yuan. However, the rocket “test” turning into a “test flight” quickly sparked intense reactions among space enthusiasts on social media. One netizen commented, “There’s never been anything this outrageous in space history.”

The company’s initial response drew criticism for its lack of remorse and ill-timed self-promotion.

Industry experts have weighed in on the incident. Mr Zhang, a former deputy chief designer at a Xi’an-based space research institute, labelled the reported “structural failure at the connection between the rocket body and the test stand” leading to the rocket’s ascent a “low-level mistake.”

Mr Liu, from a Beijing rocket design institute, likened the failure to “letting go of a horse’s reins,” highlighting that “During a rocket engine test, the thrust of the rocket engine and the restraining force of the test device on the rocket need to be calculated in advance. Such a problem may be due to inadequate pre-calculations, leading to issues with the assembly of the test device. “

Liu stated that such situations are absolutely not allowed in the “national team” of rocket development. Private commercial space companies also need to prioritize safety. Still, this situation may have occurred because private commercial space companies have less experience with such large-scale tests, coupled with the lack of experience of on-site staff.

Sharp criticism has been unrelenting, but there are also holders of more moderate views. They note that while such public failures are rare in China’s commercial space sector, similar incidents have occurred in remote areas during government-led launches, typically out of public view.

This incident underscores the challenges facing China’s burgeoning commercial space industry, which began in earnest in 2015 when the sector opened to private enterprises. Space Pioneer, founded in 2019, aims to significantly reduce satellite launch costs through reusable liquid oxygen-kerosene rockets.

In 2023, China carried out 25 commercial launch missions, an increase of 39% from 18 in 2022. However, the scarcity of rocket launch resources, high costs, and limited carrying capacity are unavoidable industry realities.

The explosion serves as a wake-up call for China’s entire commercial space industry. Experts stress that while cost reduction is important, safety must remain the top priority. There are now calls for stricter oversight and the establishment of dedicated safety agencies to prevent potential tragedies as the sector grows rapidly.


Chinese Automaker Chery Under Fire for Alleged Forced Overtime Practices

Chery Automobile, one of China’s largest domestic car manufacturers, has been scrutinized following reports of alleged forced overtime practices.

On July 1, a user claiming to be a Chery employee posted online, alleging that the company mandates over 20 hours of overtime per week without additional pay, offering only a 10 yuan (approximately $1.40) meal subsidy.

The post further claimed that the company strictly limits employees’ ability to take compensatory time off, with some departments prohibiting leave applications altogether. It was also alleged that employees face potential dismissal based on insufficient overtime hours.

An employee at Chery’s Wuhu headquarters confirmed these claims, stating that their department requires at least 1.4 times the contracted work hours monthly. The company reportedly enforces an “896” work schedule: 8 AM to 9 PM, six days a week, with Sundays off but not guaranteed.

A 2023 graduate who joined Chery reported working nearly 300 hours in May, including 120 hours of overtime, for a take-home pay of only about 4,800 yuan, equating to an hourly rate of just 16 yuan.

This situation reflects the intense competition in China’s new energy vehicle market. While Chery achieved record sales of 1.88 million vehicles in 2023, its new energy vehicle sales accounted for less than 10% of the total, lagging behind competitors like Changan and Geely.

The issue has raised concerns about labor law compliance. Legal experts point out that these practices violate China’s Labor Law, which stipulates that overtime should not exceed three hours per day or 36 hours per month.

This incident is not isolated in China’s automotive industry. Earlier, battery giant CATL reportedly initiated a “100 Days of Struggle” campaign, implementing a similar “896” work schedule for certain employees from June 12.

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