EU-China relations


published: 16.11.2023

AI entanglements: Balancing risks and rewards of European-Chinese collaboration

China is making progress on its way to become a digital superpower. Today, five of the world’s ten largest internet companies are from China. Chinese apps like TikTok and Shein are hugely successful in the US and Europe.

China’s digital ambitions and how they affect Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a field of collaboration between China and Europe are the focus of a new MERICS report on “AI entanglements: Balancing risks and rewards of European-Chinese collaboration.”

“China’s ambitions and growing capabilities in research and applications have made it a powerhouse of AI innovation at the center of global research and development networks, networks from which it has benefited tremendously,” write Rebecca Arcesati, Wendy Chang, Antonia Hmaidi and Kai von Carnap. At the same time, economic, technological, and geopolitical competition is intensifying.

To remain competitive in AI innovation, foster the right kinds of collaboration, and assess risks, Europe’s policymakers need to have a better picture of the existing R&D and commercial ties.

The authors conclude that “the challenge for Europe is to implement a more systematic, recalibrated approach to R&D and technology collaboration with China. A broad severing of AI ties is not realistic, therefore European governments have an important role to play in enabling and preserving safe, ethical, and beneficial collaboration.”