Microsoft and Chinese security firm Qihoo 360 partner on artificial intelligence

Microsoft will work with a Chinese security vendor to develop new AI technologies amid concerns in the country the US company's operating system is a security threat.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Not long after China's decided to block the use of Windows 8 for government PCs, Microsoft is strengthening its relationships in the country, striking a deal with Chinese security vendor Qihoo 360.

The two companies on Monday pledged to cooperate in the development of mobile internet and artificial intelligence technologies, China's official news bureau Xinhua reported on Tuesday, citing a joint announcement by the Microsoft Asia Internet Engineering Academy and Qihoo 360.

Microsoft's Asia Internet Engineering Academy, based in Beijing, research efforts' are focused on Bing, advertising, and mobile internet services, while Qihoo 360 develops internet and mobile security products, browsers, and runs its own Android app store.

Microsoft — along with IBM, Google, and Apple — faces growing suspicion in China, spurred by state media reporting the dangers of relying on US technology.

Last week, China's state media warned that the three companies could become cybersecuruty threats. Chinese Central Television later quoted a local academic who said Windows 8 posed a surveillance threat by sending personal data to Microsoft's cloud infrastructure in the US.

The accusations against US technology companies comes against a backdrop of heightened suspicion in China rooted in the leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, whose revelation about the extent of the US government's surveillance capabilities have been published since June last year.

While concerns are held over all US tech companies, Microsoft in particular is facing a tough time, last month seeing Windows 8 blocked from new government procurements.

And the accusations are flying in both directions. The US in May charged five Chinese men, described as "military hackers", with economic espionage. Today, US security firm CrowdStrike also claimed to have uncovered another group of Chinese hackers with military connections that they've dubbed Putter Panda.

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