Curtin University, UTS announce reviews of surveillance technology used by Chinese Government
Curtin University and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on Tuesday announced they are reviewing funding and research approval procedures due to concerns over links to technology that is being used to carry out mass human rights abuse by the Chinese Government in Xinjiang province.
Four Corners revealed on Monday night that UTS was conducting an internal review into its $10 million partnership with CETC, a Chinese state-owned military tech company that developed an app that Chinese security forces use to track and detain Muslim Uyghur citizens in Xinjiang.
Human Rights Watch welcomed the internal review by UTS.
Elaine Pearson, the director of Human Rights Watch Australia, said: “I think no Australian university wants to be collaborating with a Chinese company that is basically building these tools of repression in China.”
UTS says it is confident there is no link between the research conducted at its centre and the CETC app being used in Xinjiang.
The internal review began in April, UTS says, according to Four Corners.
“UTS at this stage has no plans for new work with CETC and will assess the current contractual agreements in light of the review,” UTS said in a statement.
The university said the internal review should be completed “within weeks.”
La Trobe University associate professor James Leibold, one of the world’s leading experts on ethnic minorities in China, is calling on all Australian universities to immediately end any links they might have with the Chinese Communist Party.
“I think the UTS and other universities here in Australia that have connections with any party state company, particularly in the military or security sector, needs to end those contracts, and to pull out of those collaborative arrangements,” he said.
Curtin University in Perth is reviewing its research approval procedures after Four Corners revealed an associate professor at the university has been involved in developing methods to better identify ethnic minorities in China using artificial intelligence.
Experts have labelled the research by Curtin associate professor Liu Wan-Quan as “racial profiling” and have warned once this technology is created, individuals cannot control how it is used by the Chinese Government.
Curtin University said Professor Liu was solely focused on the provision of “technical advice to the Chinese research team” and that Curtin “unequivocally condemns the use of artificial intelligence, including facial recognition technology, for any form of ethnic profiling to negatively impact and/or or persecute any person or group.”
Elaine Pearson also said: “It’s no secret that China is using facial recognition tools to racially profile Uyghurs and we know what happens as a consequence of that racial profiling.”
“I think there are real questions about how those projects were allowed to proceed.
“I think this should cause a rethink for all Australian institutions, companies, organisations, that are collaborating with Chinese state institutions.”
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