A woman and her dog walks past the UBC sign at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

UBC conference draws fire over speaker from Chinese tech company blacklisted in U.S.

The company that has been blacklisted by the U.S. over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority

A conference hosted by University of British Columbia students is facing criticism for having a speaker from a Chinese company that has been blacklisted by the United States over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority.

The UBC China Forum, a business conference organized by members of the university’s BizChina Club, lists SenseTime executive director Jimmy Zhou as one of its confirmed speakers.

The artificial intelligence company, which produces facial recognition software among its core technologies, was one of eight companies blacklisted by the U.S. last month for being implicated in China’s repression and mass detention of the country’s Uyghur community.

Mehmet Tohti, founder of the Uyghur Canadian Society said it ”shocks our conscience” that the executive was being given a platform in Canada to advance the interests of the Chinese Community Party.

“I am disappointed to see that Canada has become the safe heaven of Chinese propaganda and CCP-backed Chinese enterprises,” he said by email.

“SenseTime…and other Chinese companies should be condemned and sanctioned by Canada for their complicity with CCP regime in interning more than three million Uyghurs in concentration camps without any due process.”

UBC president Santa Ono said in a video promoting the forum that he was “proud” the students were bringing a conference to UBC that follows on similar forums held at Harvard, Wharton and the London School of Economics.

The university said in a statement that the conference was a student initiative, focused on exploring business ideas between China and Canada, and directed any questions on the speakers to the student organizers.

The BizChina group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the forum, which is set to begin on Saturday.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology said last month it was reviewing its relationships with Chinese artificial intelligence companies after news of the blacklisting. The MIT-SenseTime Alliance on Artificial Intelligence funds multiple research projects.

SenseTime has said it is misunderstood and is actively developing its artificial intelligence code of ethics. It said it was “deeply disappointed” by the decision by the U.S. to blacklist the firm.

ALSO READ: ‘Shame on you’: Demonstrators protest China-sponsored event

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Parksville council members share views on affordable housing

Divergent opinions on responsibility, priorities

Massive early-morning blaze destroys unoccupied Nanoose Bay home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire

Captain Dziadyk to end season with Oceanside Generals on high note

Qualicum Beach player is longest-serving player in team history

Petition underway to stop bylaw on homeless camping in Regional District of Nanaimo

‘Canadians are known for their meekness but this time we need to have a voice’

Qualicum Beach approves Pheasant Glen zoning amendment

Majority of residents who spoke at public hearing endorsed proposed amendment bylaw

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

UPDATE: Two missing scout leaders found near Sooke after swollen creek traps troop

Third leader and scouts located, prior to search for two leaders who’d gone for help

Most Read