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China’s AI satellites can track US warships in real time around the world: Report

Then-Vice President Joe Biden honors Chinese President Xi Jinping at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 25, 2015. (U.S. State Dept/Released)
May 11, 2022

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tracked in real-time a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier moving off the coast of Long Island, New York, last year. Using artificial intelligence, a Chinese remote sensing satellite automatically detected the USS Harry S. Truman’s exact coordinates and transferred that information to Beijing, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.

Previously, the CCP had to gather and dissect satellite data to determine what drills were taking place in U.S. waters. Now, new AI-powered satellites give Beijing the power to “live stream” military maneuvers across the world, space scientist Yang Fang from DFH Satellite in Beijing said in April in a peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Spacecraft Engineering.

The U.S. Navy said the exercise monitored by China involved seven warships and numerous planes to test various tactics used when fighting an enemy in a narrow waterway. The methods included changing formation and emergency maneuvers to push away enemy ships and submarines.

Yang’s team in China said that the Chinese technology was so advanced that it could detect a range of tactical and strategic targets. The satellite reportedly analyzed over 200 frames of high-definition images per second.

A Beijing-based satellite imaging scientist said putting artificial intelligence into space was extremely difficult due to the large amount of data that required extensive training.

The researcher, who asked to remain anonymous, also noted that most AI chips would fail under intense radiation, but Yang’s team had managed to achieve groundbreaking “weight reduction” for the technology.

The report comes on the heels of a new short film released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on China’s plan to steal U.S. technology to achieve “global market domination.” The film urges the American private sector to safeguard their intellectual property against what the agency described as the Chinese Communist Party’s “sustained and ongoing industrial espionage.”

“In a world of global adversaries, the People’s Republic of China stands at the forefront with its sustained and brazen campaign of industrial espionage, posing the single greatest threat to our freedom, national security, and economic vitality,” the FBI said in a statement on the film. “Made in Beijing: The Plan for Global Market Domination sounds the alarm, helping private sector partners recognize the urgent need to protect their crown jewels against industrial espionage.”

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden said the Chinese government is lobbying against new legislation that would increase competition against China by bolstering U.S. production of computer semiconductors.

“Today, all — all the world’s most advanced chips are made overseas,” Biden said. “But the events of the past few years have proven beyond a doubt that America’s security should never be held hostage to events overseas — not a pandemic, not a war, not the politics of — ambition, or other countries. Fundamentally, there’s a national — this is a national security issue. This is one of the reasons why the Chinese Communist Party is lobbying folks to oppose this bill. And it’s an issue that unites Democrats and Republicans.”