Skip to content
UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt defends China’s invitation to AI summit


The United Kingdom will invite China to participate in only limited parts of an artificial intelligence summit planned for later this year, despite hesitation from the United States and other allies, British Chancellor Jeremy Hunt told POLITICO Tech.

“We’re not going to invite China to every part of the summit,” Hunt said, while defending the decision to include Beijing despite widespread concerns about its use of AI technology for surveillance and surveillance. repression. He added that British officials intended “to be very open” about practices that “we do not consider acceptable.”

“If you’re trying to create structures that make AI something that is overall a net benefit to humanity, then you can’t just ignore the world’s second-largest economy,” Hunt said in an interview that will air Wednesday . “This doesn’t mean you compromise on your values, but sometimes dialogue can be beneficial.”

The summit, announced in June by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is a UK-led effort to bring together global technology leaders and position a post-Brexit nation at the center of the global debate on AI security . Regardless of EU and US regulatory discussions, the UK summit won key support from President Joe Biden, although Biden himself is not believed to be attending.

POLITICO previously reported that U.S. and European officials would prefer that China not be involved in the event, although National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson later said that “the United States is agreement with China’s participation in the summit.

Hunt’s remarks come as he prepares to begin a tour of tech hubs along the U.S. West Coast on Wednesday, which will include stops in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles for meetings with CEOs of Amazon, Microsoft and Google, among other major American players. . He will also host a roundtable discussion with video game companies including Activision Blizzard, which has struggled to gain UK approval for its acquisition by Microsoft.

The UK aims to build on its existing startup community, which Hunt says is home to Europe’s largest number of companies valued at over $1 billion, and ultimately become “as bigger than the mothership” of Silicon Valley itself, he said. He plans to achieve this, in part, by striking a balance between a heavily regulated Europe and a lightly regulated United States.

But some of the UK’s regulatory proposals, such as new digital competition rules, have sparked opposition from big tech companies. Investors have balked at perceived excesses by the country’s antitrust regulator, which has derailed several Big Tech acquisitions in recent years. Meanwhile, WhatsApp, owned by Apple and Meta, has also signaled that they will shut down their services in the country due to rules that they say threaten users’ privacy.

“We will be very honest with the tech giants I meet: we want a regulatory environment that supports innovation, and that means an environment that works for new startups and successful challengers,” Hunt said.

The UK is specifically aiming to plant its flag as a world leader in artificial intelligence. It is already home to pioneering AI company DeepMind, which is owned by Google, and a growing research and development center in this field, as well as other disciplines like life sciences and biotechnology, Hunt said , which he intended to use in his sales pitch. to American technology leaders.

“What I’ll really say is, ‘Look, this is an incredibly exciting time in terms of technology development and we want to be a smart partner to you as you develop your expansion plans,'” said Hunt at POLITICO Tech.

China’s likely participation in the November AI summit has been a source of tension for weeks. POLITICO first reported in late August that Beijing was likely to be invited, and British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly confirmed China’s involvement on Tuesday.

Hunt said China’s inclusion was necessary if democratic nations hoped to exert any influence over President Xi Jinping’s AI practices and avoid dividing the world into different regulatory regimes for rapidly evolving technology – a division which already exists with the Internet while China exercises increasing control.

“We recognize that free world democracies will want to take a different path on AI regulation because we have different privacy concerns and we will reflect this in how we move forward,” said Hunt.

“But there is a bigger issue regarding China, which we all need to be honest about,” he continued. “China, despite the many things we disagree with in this regime, is not going away. And the choice before us is: do we try to engage constructively where we can?

Vincent Manancourt and Annie Rees contributed to this report.

To hear the full interview with Hunt and other tech leaders, subscribe to POLITICO Tech at Apple","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":(),"URL":"","_identifier":"0000018a-af58-d125-a9fa-bfffef8070000","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_identifier":"0000018a-af58-d125-a9fa-bfffef8070001","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Apple, Spotify","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":(),"URL":"","_identifier":"0000018a-af58-d125-a9fa-bfffef8070002","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_identifier":"0000018a-af58-d125-a9fa-bfffef8070003","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Spotify, Google ","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":(),"URL":"","_identifier":"0000018a-af58-d125-a9fa-bfffef8070004","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_identifier":"0000018a-af58-d125-a9fa-bfffef8070005","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Google or wherever you get your podcasts.