Read about the unexpected chill during Secretary of State Kissinger's 1974 visit to India, marked by political tensions and a surprising reception, as reported by the New York Times.
Harnessing advanced digital technologies has become a vital component of comprehensive national power in the contemporary world and technology competition is today a major fault line of geopolitics. The USA appears to be falling behind China in the race to develop advanced technologies. Beijing is in the process of establishing a monopoly in some areas and leads in fields such as electric batteries, hyper sonics, and advanced radio-frequency communications like 5G and 6G. According to a report published earlier this year, America is the clear leader in only seven of 44 technologies ~ tracked over 2022-23 by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute ~ including vaccines, quantum computing, and space launch systems.
While China and the USA are by far the leaders in advanced technologies, a small group of tier-two countries led by India and the United Kingdom are beginning to make a mark in some fields. Against this backdrop, Washington and its partners have recently taken aggressive steps to manage that competition ~ the USA and the European Union have each passed their version of a “Chips Act” designed to promote domestic semiconductor fabrication, while Washington has implemented an array of new export controls and administrative measures in an attempt to curtail China’s domestic high-end semiconductor industry. Beijing, meanwhile, has doubled down on the strategy of technology self-reliance and initiated restrictive measures of its own such as the ban placed on using Micron products in telecommunications infrastructure. A new Brookings paper iterates that tech entrepreneurs, firms, and research labs in both the USA and China are racing to seize the business and strategic opportunities thrown up by the rapid adoption of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. But how SinoUS global technology competition, which is a critical aspect of emergent great power rivalry, plays out is unlikely to be entirely in the hands of strategists in Beijing and Washington. Businesses and technology firms scattered around the globe have a major role to play and to gauge their perceptions of where the future of technology is headed, the Brookings Institute surveyed 285 global executives, academics, and researchers globally to elicit their views on how the industry will evolve.
Of them, 100 work for Chinese organisations, 100 for US-based ones, and 50 for European-headquartered ones. The remaining respondents were scattered across India, East Asia and Southeast Asia. Over 60 per cent of respondents worked in the semiconductor or high-tech hardware industries, with the remainder working for companies that are heavy users of semiconductor technologies. The survey results are a surprise to the extent that the USA is still viewed as being in a stronger competitive position than is appreciated in Washington while China, conversely, is perceived as facing significant headwinds, particularly in its push to develop leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing capabilities and in maintaining its global share of electronics manufacturing. The survey, however, reaffirms the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s findings that the USA and China continue to maintain a substantial lead over other regions, especially Europe, as locations to develop, commercialise and scale new technologies. Finally, the survey indicates that the future of the global technology industry is likely to be bifurcated and de-risked, with many firms continuing to serve both the US and Chinese technology ecosystems.