Chinese tech founders are scrambling to survive US blacklist

Chinese tech founders are scrambling to survive US blacklist

Cameras for SenseTime Group Ltd.'s autonomous driving system are mounted inside a Lincoln Motor Co. MKZ sedan during a test-drive in Hangzhou, China, on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. SenseTime's image-identifying algorithms have made it the world's most valuable AI startup and an early leader in China, where it's won contracts with the country's top phonemakers, largest telecommunications company, and biggest retailer. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

The co-founder of China’s SenseTime Group Ltd. was visiting New York to encourage more collaboration with the U.S. on artificial intelligence when he heard the news: The Trump administration had blacklisted his company. So much for more cooperation.

Xu Bing, the 29-year-old co-founder, knew SenseTime was at risk given rising tensions between China and the U.S., but the timing took him by surprise. He was spending a few days showing off his latest products and meeting other AI researchers earlier this month when the Commerce Dept. put his company and seven others on its “Entity List,” prohibiting American companies from providing crucial supplies like semiconductors. His phone flooded with calls and emails from worried employees and investors.

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