Alexandra Alper

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. investors, including the investment units of Intel Corp and Qualcomm Inc, made nearly a fifth of investments in Chinese artificial intelligence companies between 2015 and 2021, a report said on Wednesday.

The paper, released by CSET, a technology policy group at Georgetown University, comes amid increased scrutiny of US investments in AI, quantum and semiconductors as the Biden administration prepares to unveil new restrictions on US funding of Chinese technology companies.

According to the report, 167 US investors participated in 401 transactions, or about 17% of the investment in Chinese AI companies during this period.

These transactions accounted for $40.2 billion in investment, or 37% of the total raised by Chinese AI companies over the 6-year period. It is unclear from the report, which obtained information from data provider Crunchbase, what percentage of the funding came from US companies.

Qualcomm Ventures and Intel Capital participated in 13 and 11 investments in Chinese AI companies, respectively, ahead of GGV Capital, which led US firms with a total of 43 investments in the sector, the data showed.

The Biden administration is expected to issue an executive order this year curbing some U.S. investment in sensitive Chinese technology industries, as hawks in Washington accuse U.S. investors of funneling capital and valuable know-how to Chinese technology companies that could help develop Beijing’s military capabilities.

US investor GSR Ventures has invested alongside China’s IFlytek Co Ltd in a Chinese artificial intelligence company after the speech recognition firm was added to a trade blacklist, according to a report. Silicon Valley Bank and investment group Wanxiang American Healthcare invested in Chinese AI firms alongside China’s Sensetime before the powerful facial recognition technology was added to the same trading blacklist.

Both companies were blacklisted, effectively barring them from receiving US technology exports, in 2019 for alleged human rights abuses related to a crackdown on Uyghur Muslims.

Some of the biggest investments include Goldman Sachs’ solo investment in 1KMXC, an AI-enabled robotics company, and three US venture capital firms’ investment in Geek+, an autonomous mobile robot company, the report shows.

According to CSET, only one Chinese AI company that received funding from American investors is involved in developing AI programs for military use or public safety.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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