Meng Jing

Meng Jing

Jing is a contributor to Inkstone. She covers the China tech scene for the South China Morning Post.

2019 was the year Chinese artificial intelligence clashed with US
In 2017, China told the world it planned to become a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI). Two years later, that promise came to dominate the Chinese, if not the global, conversation about technology. At a conference this past May, John Kerry, the former US secretary of state, said Chinese President Xi Jinping’s announcement was not the “wisest” move. “It would have probably been smart to go try to do it and not announce [the plan], because the announcement was heard in Washington and elsewhere,” he said. His words foreboded a storm approaching Chinese AI firms. Reports days later indicated Washington was considering placing several Chinese surveillance companies on the US Entity Li
How AI and human rights get tangled up in the US-China tech rivalry
When Trump administration officials announced on October 7 that they were banning some of China’s most feted artificial intelligence and surveillance companies from buying US technology, the move caught Chinese policymakers off guard. Back in May, the US Commerce Department cited national security concerns when it barred Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from buying US technology. In its latest move, the Trump administration banned eight companies, including China’s AI national champions SenseTime, Megvii and iFlyTek, and 20 police departments for their purported roles in the suppression of Uygur minorities in Xinjiang. It was the first time that human rights were cited as a reason fo
China sees a chance to overtake the US with AI chips
Today’s iPhone has 100,000 times the processing power of the Apollo computer that landed humankind on the moon 50 years ago, while costing a tiny fraction of the Nasa machine. This is down to Moore’s Law, the observation by one of the founders of Intel, a chip maker, that computing power doubles every two years. That this correlation has held for five decades helps to explain China’s position on the proverbial hamster wheel – never quite catching up in semiconductor technology. As a relative latecomer to the chip industry, experts reckon China is somewhere between five to 10 years behind the cutting edge in the technology to design and produce integrated circuits (IC). This is important beca
Why Chinese students in the US aren’t fans of Hong Kong protesters
Brian Shan says the way he views the world has been reshaped since he arrived in the United States to study seven years ago. The 30-year-old Beijing native, working on a PhD in materials engineering at an Ivy League university, has come to accept that same-sex marriage is no different from men marrying women. He gets news from both CNN and China’s state-backed People’s Daily and uses social media platforms both within and beyond China’s Great Firewall. His broad exposure to US culture has changed him in many ways: the biggest personal shift came in 2013, Shan said, when he became religious. Even so, Shan doesn’t support the Hong Kong protesters, whose months-long anti-government demonstratio
How China squandered chances to build its own chip industry
China has long been aware of the need to develop a strong semiconductor industry of its own. The recent trade war with the US, which threatens to cut off critical access to US components for national tech champions, has added extra urgency. What many people might not be aware of is that China was close to the US in the 1960s when it came to early semiconductor technology – so close that it had a fighting chance of leading the industry. However, a combination of political upheaval and misguided industrial strategy has meant that after decades of effort, China still lags. The story of China’s chip efforts goes back to the beginnings of the integrated circuit (IC). The IC, a collection of elect
From farming to coding for Google, her story lights up China’s internet
To get where she is today, Sun Ling has beaten long odds. Born in a rural hamlet in central China’s Hunan province, Sun shot to Chinese social media stardom for her rags-to-relative-comfort career trajectory. Her story begins in a household of such modest means that her mother had to sell blood to make ends meet and a primary school education interrupted by the need for her hands in the family’s fields. She has no fancy college degree, having gone to work on the assembly line at a Shenzhen factory directly from high school. Yet today, the 29-year-old works as a contract software engineer at Google in New York, coding on workdays and playing frisbee on weekends, with an annual salary of about
China's top young tech talent is heading home
Once upon a time, American companies could cherry-pick the top Chinese talent from US universities, promising big money, generous benefits and the chance to work at industry leaders. Those days seem to be over. Today, talented young graduates – who desire more than just a cushy life – want jobs with China’s cutting-edge technology companies. “What I look for in a job is not money. My parents are not counting on me to support them,” said Ben Zhang, who turned down a sought-after job offer from a Boeing subsidiary in the US after getting a master’s degree in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Instead, he returned to Beijing in 2018. Zhang, 28, now works as a produ
Huawei employees banned from reviewing papers for over 200 journals
The impact of American sanctions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has extended beyond business to reach scientific research. The New York-based IEEE, or Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, has moved to ban Huawei employees from peer-reviewing research papers submitted to its journals after the Chinese company was added to a US trade blacklist. IEEE is the world's biggest technical professional organization and publishes more than 200 journals. The decision by IEEE was leaked online across Chinese social media on May 29, igniting a backlash from some of the country’s leading scientists who described the move as “anti-science” and “violating academic freedom.” Zhang Haixia, a p
Apple suffers collateral damage in US-China tech cold war
As a new economic cold war breaks out between the United States and China, Apple has found itself caught in the crossfire. The Trump administration’s move to put Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei on a trade blacklist last week has provoked anger in China, where the brand is seen as a symbol of Chinese innovation.  Some longtime Chinese fans of Apple say they have ditched the American brand for a Huawei handset amid rising US-China tensions. “There is a calling from my heart that I need to show support for Chinese brands,” said Wang Zhixin, the manager at one of China’s largest solar module makers, who replaced his iPhone 7 earlier this month with a Huawei P30. As a US export ban threa
Why the doors to America are closing for Chinese tech students
For many international students in US colleges, landing a job in the country could make their careers. But for millions of Chinese students graduating with degrees in technology, the nerve-wracking process of getting an American work visa has been complicated by heightened tensions between the United States and China. Chinese tech students in US colleges, especially those majoring in robotics, aviation, engineering and hi-tech manufacturing, say they have become collateral damage as Washington has increasingly painted Chinese nationals as potential threats. FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday accused China of trying to “steal its way up the economic ladder,” naming “graduate students and