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

Wells filmmaker James Douglas will be directing a feature length Christmas Movie, set to film in Prince George in March. (Baker Street Productions)
Wells director set to lead Christmas film shoot

James Douglas will be the man in charge in Prince George from March 1 - 13

Registered Nurse, Teresa Friesen immunizes Dunrovin resident, Richard Brophy. (Submitted Photo)
Dunrovin residents first to receive vaccine in Quesnel

91 residents in the seniors’ home were given the first dose of their vaccine

The Quesnel Regional Airport hasn’t hosted passenger flights since Central Mountain Air stopped flying into the city in April of 2020 due to a COVID-19 downturn. File Photo
Council trying to attract airlines back to Quesnel

Staff to investigate temporarily waiving landing fees at Quesnel Airport

The KIJHL’s Kamloops Storm players celebrate on the ice at West Fraser Centre after a goal during one of their games in Quesnel in December 2017. Efforts to bring a KIJHL team to Quesnel stalled in 2018 after the league’s executive voted 16-3 against expansion. (Tracey Roberts Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Kangaroos fighting GMHL junior expasion into Quesnel

The Senior AA team sent a letter asking council to not support the non-sanctioned league’s efforts

Newly elected Nazko Chief Leah Stump penned a letter explaining the scope of the project. (Photo submitted)
Nazko seeks approval to build housing for members facing lengthy medical visits in Quesnel

The First Nation is looking to build nine units in West Quesnel to help members staying in the city

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read