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Who is winning the global technological competition?

March 09, 2023

Western democracies are losing the race for scientific and research breakthroughs, and the ability to retain global talent, integral ingredients in developing technologies, according to a recent report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). In the project funded by the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center and a grant from The Special Competitive Studies Project, ASPI says that their research reveals that “China has built the foundations to position itself as the world’s leading science and technology superpower, by establishing a sometimes stunning lead in high-impact research across the majority of critical and emerging technology domains.”

The report, ASPI’s Critical Technology Tracker The global race for future power, finds that China’s lead is due to deliberate design and long-term policy planning. The report shows that China leads in 37 of 44 technologies that ASPI is tracking.

The report delves into the implications for China’s research lead and also provides possible solutions to democratic nations’ technology lag. It calls for “deeper collaboration between partners and allies, greater investment in areas including R&D, talent and commercialization, and more focused intelligence strategies. And, finally, governments must make more space for new, bigger and more creative policy ideas - the step-up in performance required demands no less.”

Twenty-three policy recommendations geared to closing the technology research gap are also outlined, spanning four themes of: investment and talent; global partnerships; intelligence; and moonshots, or big ideas. The full report can be found here, and the ASPI Critical Technology Tracker website provides a new dataset that allows users to track 44 technologies that is says are foundational for economies, societies, national security, energy production, health and climate security.

technology, r&d, china, report