The AI ‘Race’: China vs. the US with Jeffrey Ding and Karen Hao

August 31, 2023

In the debate over slowing down AI, we often hear the same argument against regulation. “What about China? We can’t let China get ahead.” To dig into the nuances of this argument, Tristan and Aza speak with academic researcher Jeffrey Ding and journalist Karen Hao, who take us through what’s really happening in Chinese AI development. They address China’s advantages and limitations, what risks are overblown, and what, in this multi-national competition, is at stake as we imagine the best possible future for everyone.

CORRECTION: Jeffrey Ding says the export controls on advanced chips that were established in October 2022 only apply to military end-users. The controls also impose a license requirement on the export of those advanced chips to any China-based end-user.


Jeffrey Ding is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at George Washington University. His research agenda covers emerging technologies and international security, the political economy of innovation, and China's scientific and technological capabilities. His book manuscript investigates how past technological revolutions influenced the rise and fall of great powers, with implications for U.S.-China competition in emerging technologies like AI. Dr. Ding’s research has been published or is forthcoming in European Journal of International Security, Foreign Affairs, International Studies Quarterly, Review of International Political Economy, and Security Studies, and his work has been cited in The Washington Post, The Financial Times, and other outlets. He received his PhD in 2021 from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and earned his B.A. in 2016 at the University of Iowa.

Karen Hao is an award-winning journalist covering the impacts of artificial intelligence on society. She was formerly a foreign correspondent covering China tech for the Wall Street Journal and a senior editor for AI at MIT Technology Review. Her work is regularly taught in universities and cited by governments. She has received numerous accolades for her coverage, including an ASME Next Award for Journalists Under 30. She received her B.S. from MIT.

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