Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
March 2, 2023
It is a puzzle that the US State Department funded this study with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) instead of a US organization. The study is focused on public research, the classified research and private research are not included. So, the implication of this study on defense and national security is not clear. Because the US, with the largest defense budget in the world, has been funding classified research for years.
Now “critical and emerging technologies” are heavily related to and based on basic research. Financing basic research depends on steady government funds. But money isn’t everything, qualified and dedicated staff are critical. Thus, the complete education system, from K to PhD must be able to produce in-house R&D workforce. Furthermore, free academic exchanges, including open international symposiums and laboratory visits are key. The proposed “visa screening programs and instead favour international collaboration with security allies” will be counterproductive. Rather, free and open international collaboration is an integral part of basic research.
After all, there is no boundary on science and research.
China leads US in global competition for key emerging technology, study says
Wed, March 1, 2023 at 9:12 PM PST
SYDNEY (Reuters) – China has a “stunning lead” in 37 out of 44 critical and emerging technologies as Western democracies lose a global competition for research output, a security think tank said on Thursday after tracking defence, space, energy and biotechnology.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said its study showed that, in some fields, all of the world’s top 10 research institutions are based in China.
The study, funded by the United States State Department, found the United States was often second-ranked, although it led global research in high-performance computing, quantum computing, small satellites and vaccines.
“Western democracies are losing the global technological competition, including the race for scientific and research breakthroughs,” the report said, urging greater research investment by governments.
China had established a “stunning lead in high-impact research” under government programs.
The report called for democratic nations to collaborate more often to create secure supply chains and “rapidly pursue a strategic critical technology step-up”.
National talent flows of researchers were also tracked and monopoly risks were identified. China was bolstering its research with knowledge gained overseas, and the data showed one-fifth of the top Chinese researchers were trained in a Five Eyes country, it said.
The study recommended visa screening programs to limit illegal technology transfers and instead favour international collaboration with security allies.
Australia’s universities have said they are complying with foreign influence laws designed to stop the illegal transfer of technology to China, but also noted international collaboration is an integral part of university research.
China on track to dominate development of critical future technologies, ASPI report says
By foreign affairs reporter Stephen Dziedzic
A ground-breaking new report has warned Western governments that China is in a prime position to dominate critical future technologies in a vast array of fields after establishing a “sometimes stunning” lead in research and development.
- The ASPI report found China is beating the US in 37 of 44 technologies
- They included artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing
- The think tank says China is particularly dominant in research for the defence, security and space sectors
While a “second tier” of countries — including India, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Germany and Australia — have also developed advanced research capabilities, they still lag far behind the two great powers.
ASPI’s Jamie Gaida, who co-authored the report, said while China’s research edge did not translate into technological superiority right now, Beijing had built the foundations to position itself as the world’s leading science and technology power.
“In some of these technologies we are seeing China is publishing approximately 65 per cent of the world’s top research within that technology area.
“Current research doesn’t directly translate to current defence capability or manufacturing capability, but surely if you want to be in the best position to be in the lead in say five years’ time — well, of course you want to be in the forefront of innovation and breakthrough research.”
China attracts top level scientists, report finds
The report shows China is particularly dominant when it comes to research for the defence, security and space sectors, often producing more than five times as much high-impact research as its closest competitor — which is almost always the US.
Chinese institutions also dominate research into drones, autonomous systems, advanced optical systems, artificial technology and machine learning.
Dr Gaida stressed that the tech tracker did not capture classified research conducted by governments in private, or research conducted behind closed doors by private companies.
The Biden Administration has also moved to ramp up expenditure in advanced manufacturing, and last year passed the CHIPS act which will plunge more than $US200 billion ($296 billion) into trying to ensure the United States regains its lead in manufacturing semiconductor chips.
But the report warns that China’s clear lead in public research provides evidence that Beijing could establish a “stranglehold” on global supply chains for critical technologies in the future, handing it powerful leverage and a clear technical edge.
It also says China’s government has successfully attracted top scientists specialising in critical technologies, and that Australia and its allies need to rapidly scale up research and development in order to catch up.
“Now is the time to move, essentially, and we don’t shy away from the fact this will be expensive,” Dr Gaida told the ABC.
“This will require a very significant step up in our research and development capability.”