China’s military is increasingly enlisting smaller private sector start-ups in the race to create the next generation of high-tech weaponry. While the process of including the private sector in military procurement tenders on a large scale started in 2013, it is only recently that the People’s Liberation Army has sourced sensitive next-generation technology such as drones and artificial intelligence from private start-ups, according to the Financial Times. The new strategy has been pioneered by President Xi Jinping who this year created a Military-Civil Integration Development Commission with himself as head. The fruits of the strategy were on display last week at Beijing’s “Civil-Military Integration Expo,” where private companies’ military hardware, from autonomous armed boats to virtual reality goggles, were on display. Some private companies say that being allowed to compete for military contracts is partly an effort to cut hardware costs. But private companies and startups are also widely judged to be better at some types of innovation.
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