Russia and China Meet on Military Use of AI

by Carolyn Mathas

China and Russia will consult and coordinate on the military use of artificial intelligence, a new front in China’s rivalry with the U.S. In Beijing last week, officials of both countries were said to have “a detailed exchange of assessments” of the use of AI for military purposes, according to the Russian foreign ministry. Discussions extended to “the doctrinal guidelines and initiatives of Russia and China” on the issue, the Russian statement said, without saying which officials were involved.

The two sides agreed to step up coordination under the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) of the States Parties to the Convention on Inhumane Weapons on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). The need for further close cooperation in this area, both in the bilateral format and in the relevant multilateral platforms, was noted, primarily within the framework of the GGE on LAWS.

The Chinese statement about the meeting did not refer to military use of AI, but spanned “outer space security, biosecurity and artificial intelligence.”

Washington launched the Political Declaration on the Responsible Military Use of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy a year ago, calling for the establishment of a new legal and diplomatic framework, now endorsed by 46 countries, such as Australia, Britain, Canada, Singapore, and South Korea. China and Russia have not signed on, and Beijing launched its own Global AI Governance Initiative in October.

China has repeatedly declared its support for a legal ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems, which could be significantly improved with AI. The rise of artificial intelligence has drawn intense debates, particularly over the lethal autonomous weapons systems. The UN adopted a resolution on LAWS for the first time, stressing concerns about the possible negative consequences and impact of autonomous weapons systems on global security and regional and international stability.

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