No university will develop any national secret programme with a foreign enterprise in China, a senior official has said, denying reports that the US tech giant Microsoft, in cooperation with some Chinese varsities is developing artificial intelligence based surveillance systems for snooping on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
British newspaper Financial Times reported that Microsoft Research Asia, the US tech company's Beijing-based research arm, and researchers linked to the Chinese military-run National University of Defense Technology cooperated in developing artificial intelligence (AI) based surveillance systems to detain minorities (in Xinjiang).
"In no way would Chinese universities develop any national secret program with a foreign enterprise," the state-run Global Times quoted an unnamed director of a lab supported by the Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE) and Microsoft at a university in Northeast China as saying.
Xinjiang was in turmoil for the last several years following Uyghur protests over large scale settlements of Han Chinese into the resource rich province.
The UN human rights panel said in August last year that it had received many credible reports that about a million ethnic Uyghurs in China have been detained in "massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy".
China defended the camps saying that they are re-education camps aimed at de-radicalise sections of the Uyghur Muslim population from extremism and separatism.
The US and several other countries besides the UN officials have expressed concern over the camps.
Microsoft has also rejected the accusations.
"Microsoft's researchers, who are often academics, conduct fundamental research with leading scholars and experts from around the world to advance our understanding of technology," a Microsoft spokesperson told the Global Times on Thursday.
The spokesperson said "the research is guided by our principles and fully complies with the US and local laws. It will be published to ensure transparency".
The project is part of the implementation of a plan for AI development launched by China's State Council in 2017.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)