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

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

A ball balances on the rim. New basketball court surfaces and nets will be installed as part of the McBride Street Multi-sport Court Redevelopment project to which Pembina donated $20,000. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Nothing but net for $20,000 Pembina donation

McBride Street multi-sport court redevelopment project in the planning

Ben Spencer has overcome the challenges of having a tenth-grade education and imparts the importance of education by teaching Sm’alygax to students. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Heart of our city: Ben Spencer

Teacher of traditional language and Sm’alygax fluency

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

I want to fly higher. Eva Moore and her brother Leroy Moore are treated to some high pushes from Simon Temple while swinging at Moose Tot Park on April 15. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Photo Gallery: Prince Rupert tots enjoy fun in the sun

Warmer weather is attracting kids of all ages to play outside

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read