These technologies cover a range of critical areas in defence, aerospace, robotics, energy, environment, biotechnology, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced materials, and key areas of quantum technology. (photo: 123RF)
Geological analysis. China is known to be a technological powerhouse. What’s less is that it dominates the US in most high-tech sectors, says the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a think tank that specializes in policy and defense issues.
in its most recent report (ASPI Critical Technology Tracker – The Global Race for Future Power), the Australian organization reports that China is ahead in 37 of the 44 advanced technologies that the Asia Pacific Institute has been closely analyzing over the past few years.
These technologies cover a range of critical areas in defence, aerospace, robotics, energy, environment, biotechnology, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced materials, and key areas of quantum technology.
This think tank is funded by governments (Australia and other countries), technology and defense companies.
Its report raises the alarm about the results of its investigation, which are likely to have economic and political implications for Western countries.
“Western democracies are losing out to global technological competition, including the race for scientific and research breakthroughs, and the ability to retain global talent—critical ingredients that underpin the development and control of the most advanced and important technologies in the world, including those that do not yet exist. .
After the Japanese danger, the Chinese danger?
No doubt some analysts would see this as an alarming and exaggerated note, while the United States and major European countries invest massive amounts of money in research and development every year.
Some will also remember the similar concerns that many analysts, reports, and books conveyed in the 1980s about Japan.
On the rise, the Japanese economy was projected to outpace the US economy, leaving the US lagging behind in the high-tech sectors.
We know the rest.
Japan experienced a severe real estate crisis in the early 1990s, followed by decades of deflation.
The pessimists were wrong: Japan never overtook the United States, and the American economy continued to grow and maintain its leadership in advanced technologies.
However, the picture painted by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute report deserves special attention.
There are two surprising elements.
First, the ASPI Critical Technology Tracker shows that for some technologies, the top 10 global research institutes are located in China.
What’s more, the latter collectively produces nine times more high-impact research papers than the second-ranking country—most often the United States.
The US ranks second in the majority of 44 technologies reviewed by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). (photo: 123RF)
Secondly, the Australian think tank found that China is working hard to attract talent and knowledge to its country.
In fact, 21.6% of high-impact research papers published by China are written by researchers who underwent postgraduate training in a country in the monitoring network. five eyes (Australia, Canada, United States, New Zealand and United Kingdom).
Of that number, 3.9% of the authors were educated in Canada, compared to 9.8% in the United States—but with a population ten times larger than ours.
Thus, the relative weight of Canada is greater.
The United States is in a class of its own
Despite China’s dominance, the United States is still far from underestimating its status, notes the Asia Pacific Institute report.
It comes in second in the majority of the 44 technologies examined. The United States is also a leader in areas such as high-performance computing, quantum computing, and vaccines.
In fact, China and the United States are in a class of their own compared to other countries.
Moreover, data from the Critical Technology Tracker shows that there is a small group of second-tier countries, led by India and the United Kingdom. These two countries are among the top five in 29 of the 44 technologies analyzed.
Other countries that regularly appear in this group – across many areas of technology – include South Korea, Germany, Australia, Italy and, less often, Japan.
South Korea and Germany are following closely, appearing in the top five countries in 20 and 17 technologies.
Australia is in the top five for nine technologies, followed closely by Italy (seven), Iran (six), Japan (four) and Canada (four).
In the case of Canada, these four technologies are mining and biomineral processing, quantum computing, space launch systems, and directed energy technologies (that is, weapons that can damage a distant target without solid projectiles, for example using lasers or microwaves).
Russia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, France, Malaysia and the Netherlands round out the top five for one or two technologies.
Possible solutions to catch up with China
According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Western countries can do better in high-tech sectors.
On the one hand, this requires structural and long-term measures.
Governments can, for example, grant each other “technology visas” and grants for research and development.
They can also ‘energize’ their university sector with specialized scholarships for students and technologists working on the cutting edge of critical technology research.
Governments can also transform their tax systems to channel more private capital into venture capital and ramp up efforts for promising new technologies.
Finally, they can stimulate the creation of new public-private partnerships and centers of excellence to help further commercialize good ideas emerging from laboratories or research centers.
We are talking here about implementing public policies that transcend partisan considerations.
This requires a clear, coordinated and long-term vision.
If the West does not want to one day find itself far away in China’s technological wake.
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