NYT: China’s Surveillance State Sucks Up Data. U.S. Tech is Key to Sorting It
Sat November, 2020, Age: 2 years
A new investigation by the New York Times has found that cutting-edge chips from U.S. semiconductor companies Intel and Nvidia are used to power the Urumqi Cloud Computing Center, a critical hub which helps to parse some of the data collected amid China’s oppressive surveillance and suppression regime in the Northwest province of Xinjiang. The complex has been in operation since 2016. Amid growing awareness of China’s massive human rights abuses in Xinjiang, many U.S. companies have worked to disassociate themselves from labor and supply chains connected to the region. And companies have often claimed that they have little say over where or how their products are used. The chips in the Urumqi complex, for example, were sold by Intel and Nvidia to Sugon, a Chinese company backing the center. Sugon is an important supplier to Chinese military and security forces, but it also makes computers for ordinary companies. This ambiguity makes it easy for U.S. technology to be misused. Critics say that buyers exploit workarounds and that the industry and officials should track sales and usage more closely.