Smart Money on Chinese Advances in AI

Few countries have embraced the vision of an AI-powered future as fervently as China. Unlike the United States, the Chinese government is dedicating significant resources and attention to AI development and creating a supportive policy environment to facilitate innovation and experimentation and proactively manage risk. However, numerous misconceptions and competing narratives around China’s innovation economy have made it difficult for U.S. policymakers to understand the AI ecosystem in China and its links to AI innovation in the United States. This report seeks to improve this understanding by examining China’s progress toward achieving its four strategic goals. We find that while China’s progress towards AI leadership remains uneven, its commitment to building domestic innovation capacity could allow the country to become a world-leading AI power in the coming decades. China’s progress in AI can complement and accelerate U.S. AI development, and policymakers should avoid responding to China’s advances with counterproductive policies that undermine the U.S. innovative capacity to little or no gain. Instead, the United States should focus on developing a positive agenda for driving its own AI development.

This report is part of the CSIS China Innovation Policy Series (CIPS) made possible by general support from Japan External Trade Organization, Semiconductor Industry Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, General Electric Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation.

William A. Carter

William A. Carter

Adjunct Fellow (Non-resident), Strategic Technologies Program

William Crumpler