The Great Tech Rivalry: China vs the U.S. (2021)

In the longer-term competition, China’s advantages begin with its population of 1.4 billion that creates an unparalleled pool of talent and data, the largest domestic market in the world, and universities that are graduating computer scientists in multiples of their American counterparts. China graduates four times as many bachelor’s students with STEM degrees and is on track to graduate twice as many STEM PhDs by 2025. By contrast, the number of domestic-born AI PhDs in the U.S. has not increased since 1990.
Because a primary asset in applying AI is the quantity of quality data, China has emerged as the Saudi Arabia of the twenty-first century’s most valuable commodity. Even so, the United States enjoys two advantages in human capital that Beijing cannot replicate. First, half of the world’s AI superstars work for U.S. companies. Second, America can recruit from all the world’s 7.9 billion people, while inherent insularity restricts China to its own population.

3 thoughts on “The Great Tech Rivalry: China vs the U.S. (2021)

  1. shinichi Post author

    Executive Summary

    To mark the arrival of the 21st century, in 1999 the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine offered an Olympian preview of the decades ahead. The Academy foresaw a world in which “yesterday’s science fiction [would] enter the marketplace: animal cloning, talking electronic road maps installed in automobiles, powerful computers as small as a pack of cigarettes.” Its Report declared that America’s “uniquely powerful system for creating new knowledge and putting it to work for everyone’s benefit” had been the primary engine of productivity growth in the 20th century and would likewise be the single largest determinant for the 21st century.

    Rereading that report today, the elephant in the room it missed was China. In the future the Academy’s National Research Council envisioned, China hardly mattered. Reflecting the conventional wisdom of the era, Time Magazine’s special issue Beyond 2000 asserted confidently: “China cannot grow into an industrial giant in the 21st century. Its population is too large and its gross domestic product too small.” With a per capita income at roughly the same level as Guyana and the Philippines, most Chinese did not have enough money to buy advanced technology products—let alone the resources to invent them.

    By 2010, this picture was beginning to change. China had grown into a low-cost manufacturing site for multinational companies and was on its way to becoming the manufacturing workshop of the world for mass market goods. But according to the dominant school of thought at the time, as noted by China scholar William Kirby in the Harvard Business Review, many believed “China [was] largely a land of rule-bound rote learners” that could only imitate, not innovate. Advances in information technology could only be made in free societies by free thinkers, not under an authoritarian regime behind a firewall, the logic went. So rampant were the issues of copycat software and shanzhai electronics in China that Microsoft famously abandoned its efforts to stem pirated copies of Windows.

    Today, China’s rapid rise to challenge U.S. dominance of technology’s commanding heights has captured America’s attention. The rivalry in technology is what the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Bill Burns, spotlights as the “main arena for competition and rivalry with China.” It has displaced the U.S. as the world’s top high-tech manufacturer, producing 250 million computers, 25 million automobiles, and 1.5 billion smartphones in 2020. Beyond becoming a manufacturing powerhouse, China has become a serious competitor in the foundational technologies of the 21st century: artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, quantum information science (QIS), semiconductors, biotechnology, and green energy. In some races, it has already become No. 1. In others, on current trajectories, it will overtake the U.S. within the next decade.

    President Xi Jinping has declared, “Technological innovation has become the main battleground of the global playing field, and competition for tech dominance will grow unprecedentedly fierce.” Emphasizing the need to “develop indigenous capabilities, decrease dependence on foreign technology, and advance emerging technologies,” the Chinese government’s most recent Five-Year Plan identifies key performance indicators, sets deadlines for outcomes, and holds provincial and local governments accountable for delivering results.

    One of America’s most respected leaders in advancing and applying technology, Eric Schmidt, who led Google to become one of the world’s leading technology companies, has been candid about his views. Noting that “many Americans still have an outdated vision of China,” he believes “the United States now faces an economic and military competitor in China that is aggressively trying to close our lead in emerging technologies.” In his assessment: “Unless these trends change, in the 2030s we will be competing with a country that has a bigger economy, more research and development investments, better research, wider deployment of new technologies, and stronger computing infrastructure.”

    To take stock of the state of the technology race, this report examines the progress made by the U.S. and China in each key technology over the past 20 years.

    To begin with our bottom lines up front:

    • In the advanced technology likely to have the greatest impact on economics and security in the decade ahead—AI—China is now a “full-spectrum peer competitor” in the words of Eric Schmidt.
    • In 5G, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board, “China is on a track to repeat in 5G what happened with the United States in 4G.” Despite advantages in 5G standards and chip design, America’s 5G infrastructure rollout is years behind China’s, giving China a first-mover advantage in developing the 5G era’s platforms.
    • In quantum information science, America has long been viewed as the leader, but China’s national push presents a clear challenge. China has already surpassed the U.S. in quantum communication and has rapidly narrowed America’s lead in quantum computing.
    • America retains its position of dominance in the semiconductor industry, which it has held for almost half a century. But China’s decades-long campaign to become a semiconductor powerhouse has made it a serious competitor that may soon catch up in two key arenas: semiconductor fabrication and chip design.
    • The U.S. has seven of the ten most-valuable life sciences companies, but China is competing fiercely across the full biotech R&D spectrum. Chinese researchers have narrowed America’s lead in the CRISPR gene editing technique and surpassed it in CAR T-cell therapy.
    • Though America has been the primary inventor of new green energy technologies over the past two decades, today China is the world’s leading manufacturer, user, and exporter of those technologies, cementing a monopoly over the green energy supply chain of the future. Consequently, America’s green push relies on deepening its dependence on China.
    • China’s whole-of-society approach is challenging America’s traditional advantages in the macro-drivers of the technological competition, including its technology talent pipeline, R&D ecosystem, and national policies. As the National Security Council’s Senior Director for Technology and National Security Tarun Chhabra and the Center for Security and Emerging Technologies have recognized, “The United States is no longer the global science and technology (S&T) hegemon.”
  2. shinichi Post author

    (Google translate)




    今日、テクノロジーの圧倒的な高さの米国の支配に挑戦する中国の急速な台頭は、アメリカの注目を集めています。技術の競争は、中央情報局長官のビル・バーンズが「中国との競争と競争の主要な場」としてスポットライトを当てているものです。 2020年に2億5000万台のコンピューター、2500万台の自動車、15億台のスマートフォンを生産し、世界トップのハイテクメーカーとして米国に取って代わった。中国は製造大国になるだけでなく、21世紀の基礎技術における真剣な競争相手となった。 :人工知能(AI)、5G、量子情報科学(QIS)、半導体、バイオテクノロジー、グリーンエネルギー。一部のレースでは、すでに1位になっています。他のレースでは、現在の軌道では、今後10年以内に米国を追い抜くでしょう。

    習近平大統領は、「技術革新は世界の競争の場となり、技術の優位性をめぐる競争はかつてないほど激しくなるだろう」と宣言した。中国政府の最新の5か年計画では、「固有の能力を開発し、外国の技術への依存を減らし、新興技術を進歩させる」必要性を強調し、主要なパフォーマンス指標を特定し、成果の期限を設定し、州政府と地方政府に成果の提供に責任を負わせています。 。

    テクノロジーの進歩と応用においてアメリカで最も尊敬されているリーダーの1人であるエリックシュミットは、Googleを世界をリードするテクノロジー企業の1つに導いたが、彼の見解について率直である。 「多くのアメリカ人はまだ中国の時代遅れのビジョンを持っている」と彼は信じ、「米国は現在、新興技術でのリードを積極的に閉じようとしている中国の経済的および軍事的競争相手に直面している」と信じています。彼の評価では、「これらの傾向が変わらない限り、2030年代には、より大きな経済、より多くの研究開発投資、より良い研究、新しいテクノロジーのより広い展開、そしてより強力なコンピューティングインフラストラクチャを持つ国と競争するでしょう。」



    ペンタゴンの防衛革新委員会によると、5Gでは、「中国は4Gで米国に起こったことを5Gで繰り返す軌道に乗っています。」 5G規格とチップ設計には利点がありますが、アメリカの5Gインフラストラクチャの展開は中国よりも何年も遅れており、5G時代のプラットフォームの開発において中国に先発者の利点をもたらしています。
    量子情報科学では、アメリカは長い間リーダーと見なされてきましたが、中国の全国的な推進力は明確な課題を提示しています。 中国はすでに量子通信で米国を上回り、量子コンピューティングで米国のリードを急速に狭めています。


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