Opinions and Editorials

Jul. 22, 2020

National Review: Countering China’s Technology Offensive by Judge Paul Michel and Matthew Dowd

Five years ago, the government of China launched a massive effort, supported by massive funding, to implement an ambitious master plan, Made in China 2025. Its goal is to move away from being the world’s factory of low-cost goods to becoming the world leader in the key technologies of the 21st century. The nation that leads in these technologies will lead the world economically, and likely in other ways as well.

The challenge posed by this offensive is now clear. China is already rapidly gaining on the United States and could surpass it within this decade, and perhaps even by the announced date of 2025. The question becomes: What will our nation do about it?

One of the critical technologies at stake — 5G telecommunications — is of particular concern. Despite U.S. government warnings about the security risks linked to Chinese-based 5G equipment, such equipment is being installed in almost every nook and cranny of our country’s telecom infrastructure. America’s closest allies are similarly buying up these low-cost Chinese products, even though safer Western-made alternatives are available.

Another critical technology is advanced medicines based on the latest biotech developments. China already hosts more clinical trials than America, despite our long dominance in the health-care space. China is also quickly overtaking the United States in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, autonomous vehicles, robotics, 3D printing, and other computer-related technologies.

What has been the U.S. response? We do not have a master plan, nor a strategy to concentrate on advancing the key technologies vital to economic and national security. In fact, rather than increasing government support for critical research and development (R&D) funding, we have reduced it. In the 1960s, U.S. government funding for R&D equaled 1.8 percent of GDP; now it is only 0.6 percent — a two-thirds drop.