Science & Tech in China

China Takes a Giant Leap Ahead of US in Technology Race, Report Says

From robotics to artificial intelligence, China is leading the way in the technology race, beating the US and other western countries. Not only are they winning the race when it comes to developing advanced technologies, but they are also winning at retaining talent, with Beijing potentially establishing a monopoly in some areas.

The recently published report, conducted by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and partly funded by the US State Department, tracked technologies in a year-long project, and found that China was ahead in 37 of 44 of these technologies. The findings from the think tank, which were based on “high impact” research in critical and emerging technology fields, revealed that China has built the foundations to position itself as the world’s leading science and technology superpower.

The fields China are leading in include electric batteries, advanced radio-frequency communications (such as 5G and 6G) and hypersonics. The US was found to be the leader in the seven remaining technologies: vaccines, small satellites, advanced semiconductors, space launch systems, language processing, and quantum and high-performance computing.

The report noted that, for some technologies, all of the world’s top 10 research institutions are based in China, and they are collectively generating nine times more high-impact research papers than the country just behind (most often the US). It also found that the Chinese Academy of Sciences ranked first or second in most of the 44 technologies included in this tracker.

Technology is advancing all over the world, in all different shapes and forms. The pandemic led to a boom in certain areas, particularly in pushing many businesses and industries more into the online world. The benefits for this have been vast, from giving industries a much bigger reach to allowing more staff to work from home and easier and faster financial transactions. Certain industries have particularly reaped the rewards of going online. As this article points out, playing at an online casino allows players to just simply open a website and log in, rather than having to travel to enter a physical building. This has led to more people gambling at online casinos, which in turn has led to the revenue of the online gambling market to be predicted to reach $153.89 billion by 2028.

Being in the lead in the technology race is a huge win for China, and it has pushed other countries into investing more in innovation. Joe Biden recently announced in his State of the Union address that the US was “investing in American innovation”, focusing on industries that will define the future, and ones that China is intent on dominating.

In the UK, Jeremy Hunt announced the launch of a new research award in his Spring Budget, which will offer £1 million a year to the company that has achieved the “most groundbreaking British AI research.” This comes in a pledge from the UK government to future-proof its tech sector and aid the development of quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

According to the report by ASPI, China is also leading the way through talent and knowledge import. Some of its high-impact papers are being authored by researchers with postgraduate training in a Five-Eyes country, which refers to the intelligence-sharing grouping of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

The world was shocked in October 2021 when it was revealed that China had tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle. However, this shouldn’t have been a surprise as China has generated 48.49% of the world’s high-impact research papers into advanced aircraft engines, including hypersonics, over the past five years, which led to huge strides in their nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles in 2021. They also host seven of the world’s top 10 research institutions in this topic area.

Across the technologies, the report also found there was a large gap between the two leading countries, China and the US, and everyone else. There is a small second-tier group of nations led by India and the UK, with other countries like South Korea, Germany, Australia and Italy also appearing on the list.

While China is leading the way quite significantly, the think tank said it was important for countries to take stock of their aggregate capabilities and the collective strengths of groups such as the EU, “the Quad” and AUKUS. Having a deeper collaboration between partners and allies, greater investment in research, development, talent and commercialization, and more focused intelligence strategies, would be a movement in the right direction that could possibly provide more competition to their Asian competitor.

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