MERICS Roundtable: AI Entanglements - Assessing the Tradeoffs of European-Chinese Collaboration
MERICS held an in-person stakeholder roundtable titled "AI Entanglements: Assessing the Tradeoffs of European-Chinese Collaboration” to present and discuss the findings of a MERICS report prepared with the generous support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Policymakers and leading experts from industry and academia offered their insights during a panel discussion.
When it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Europe and China are typically mentioned in the same sentence in regulatory and governance discussions. The European Parliament recently endorsed the EU AI Act, while China has made headways in algorithmic regulation and tackled applications such as deepfakes, autonomous vehicles, and generative AI.
Less is known and discussed about the interaction between AI innovation ecosystems and research communities in Europe and China. Looking at research results, talent flows, and industry ties through investment and R&D collaboration, links between China and the United States run much deeper. Yet, AI researchers in the EU and the UK collaborate extensively with their Chinese colleagues, often on research that helps tackle some of the most pressing global challenges of our time.
Given AI’s relevance for economic competitiveness, societal wellbeing, and national security, as China’s emergence as a formidable hub for AI research and commercialization, collaboration and competition between Europe and China in this area deserve more attention. This is even more the case as Washington and Beijing have elevated strategic emerging technologies to a battleground of geopolitical competition, a trend with ripple effects on R&D and commercial networks — possibly even on AI governance.
European policymakers, industry, the research community, and civil society are worried about the continent being left behind and becoming dependent on American and Chinese technology. Meanwhile, the Chinese government’s use of AI for domestic repression and military modernization poses ethical and national security dilemmas for cross-border collaboration. How mutually important are Europe and China in AI R&D and commercialization? How can safe, ethical, and mutually beneficial cooperation be preserved?
This workshop was exclusive to invited guests and closed to the general public.