China has a bit of a difficult relationship with American tech firms. Previously it thought those making games consoles were attempting to dangerously influence its youth and more recently it’s known that any digital firms doing business there were reporting all activity straight to the NSA.
On Sept. 23, we’ll learn just how deep those trust issues run, as a meeting between several heads of U.S. tech firms and Chinese officials is set to take place, with Microsoft as co-host.
This will take place during the official presidential visit of China’s Xi Jinping, at a time where there is tension between the two countries over hacking claims. This meeting wasn’t prompted by Microsoft or any of its contemporaries though, but China, which the NYT claims is looking to show its influence on the tech sector, despite America’s digital sabre rattling.
The concern is that this will make President Barack Obama’s tough stance on digital attacks look weaker than intended.
Officials expected to be in attendance include Robin Li of Baidu and Jack Ma, who founded Alibaba. Zuo Xiaodong, vice president of China’s Information Security Research Institute, will also be in attendance. From the U.S. side of the coin, we can expect executives from Facebook, IBM, Apple, Google, and Uber to all attend.
President Xi will also be visiting and meeting with Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, even before he visits Obama in Washington.
This further illustrates the growing gulf between American politics and its tech corporations. While the Obama administration is keen to push for harsher treatment of China, tech companies feel little loyalty to a regime that has made them police their own customers. While China might have an even more restrictive regime, they wouldn’t be beholden to it in the same way as their own government.