USChina TechnoNationalism And The Decoupling Of Innovation

USChina TechnoNationalism And The Decoupling Of Innovation

The US-China hybrid Cold War is spreading to places that were once far removed from geopolitics.

In the technology sector, there is a constant development of controls on the export of tangible and intangible technologies, followed by restrictions on access and use of data, and more recently new controls that will hinder the free movement and development of human capital.

All these restrictions will accelerate the disintegration of China's supply chains, digital platforms and knowledge networks. But recent cuts in human resources, especially in knowledge-intensive collaborative activities, will change the way universities and global innovation centers operate.

The main force behind all this is techno-nationalism. a mercantilist attitude that links a country's technological and entrepreneurial capabilities with concerns about national security, economic prosperity, and social stability.

Going forward, technonationalism will influence the academic landscape and innovation in three ways.

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First, relevant educational institutions will be separated from blacklisted Chinese universities and academic programs.

Second, the growing web of export controls and restrictions will put more pressure on institutions to comply with increasingly stringent regulations.

Third, new regulatory frameworks and new indicators of good governance will appear in the panorama of the academic and innovation world.

Beijing's innovation is a necessary response to decades of commercialism and the role of the Chinese state apparatus in channeling intellectual property, technology and strategic human resources to the world's leading universities.

This article examines these questions in more detail about how techno-nationalism will affect Sino-US technology cooperation and technological development in general.

Human resources as a strategic asset

Talent pools, educational networks, research and development (R&D) centers, and innovation networks were key strategic assets in the US-China Cold War hybrid.

An example of such competition occurred in the semiconductor industry, where two Chinese government-backed companies, Quanxin Integrated Circuit Manufacturing (QXIC) and Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (HSMC), used attractive financial incentives paid for by government subsidies. Hire 100 engineers at Taiwan's TSMC, the world's largest chip maker. The Made in China 2025 initiative alone is estimated to attract 3,000 Taiwanese engineers to the mainland.

The effort reflects Beijing's urgent need to increase its semiconductor manufacturing capacity, an area that lags behind companies in the US, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

At the same time, Taiwan's government is looking for ways to subsidize the wages of local companies to match the lucrative offers of Chinese state-owned enterprises, and to impose non-competitive restrictions on the transfer of Taiwanese engineers to mainland companies.

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The Taiwanese government has stepped up efforts to monitor the transfer and use of intellectual property, including monitoring engineers at a strategic Taiwanese semiconductor company that employs a full-time national security officer.

Academic institutions are the new Ground-Zero

Technonationalism will affect most of the world's leading universities and research institutes, most of which are located in the US, Europe and other liberal democracies. Beijing has made it a priority to maximize access to these institutions to attract global subject matter experts, R&D networks, and the innovation community.

As a result, policymakers take measures to prevent hostile actors from exploiting the openness of the education system, while at the same time trying to avoid the consequential damage to human capital that has many positive aspects from the perspective of technonationalism. make an offer

Differentiation of knowledge networks

In June 2020, the US blacklisted several leading Chinese universities, including the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), dubbed the "MIT of China". The consequences of limited subject status were immediate. HIT faculty and students no longer had access to important US research and modeling software such as MATLAB, which is widely used in research and development programs around the world.

Other implications include the completion of an exchange program between HIT and the University of Arizona and the University of California, Berkeley. In sum, listing HIT as a banned organization identifies other Chinese academic institutions as part of a larger research network funded by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA). Such a flurry of activity among China's "civilian and military" academic institutions raises the possibility that others will be added to Washington's list of banned organizations.

Tsinghua University, one of China's leading academic institutions, plays a key role in China's state-sponsored semiconductor research and cooperation with Chinese state-owned enterprises. If it were to become the target of US sanctions, it would have immediate consequences for some of the world's leading universities, many of which collaborate and exchange with Tsinghua.

Meanwhile, India, the world's largest democracy, wants to take advantage of the US-China gap by investing in US-India educational ties. Thus, even as the number of Chinese scientists and STEM students in the US declines, India's techno-nationalist approach is driving US universities to India, which will create more local human resources to balance innovation in both directions. . pipeline from the US

Beijing's strategic relationship with world-class universities

China's Thousand Talents program targets leading scientists and other foreign experts. It provides significant financial support for moving to China to conduct research in high-tech and future technology fields, and to support China's high-tech development programs to participate in China's key scientific programs such as "Made in China 2025". These programs were. Years of research and development at American and European institutions have helped Beijing gain quick access to strategic intellectual property and personnel.

Thus, for many China watchers, the Thousand Talents program is associated with Beijing's alleged attempt to acquire hybrid intellectual property, involving the use of gifts, fraud, coercion and outright theft.

These suspicions are reinforced by China's national intelligence law, which requires Chinese citizens and organizations to provide assistance to state security and intelligence agencies upon request. Therefore, whether justified or not, Chinese scholars and students working and studying in foreign universities are becoming increasingly suspicious.

In January 2020, Charles Lieber, a nanoscientist and former chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biological Chemistry at Harvard University, was arrested for failing to disclose his ties to China's Thousand Talents program.

During the Lieber case, Chinese graduate student Yanqing Ye was also arrested for failing to disclose that he was a PLA lieutenant when he obtained a nonimmigrant visa to study physics at Boston University. Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. And he was accused of espionage in favor of the People's Liberation Army. According to federal documents, the seized devices showed him visiting US military websites, researching US military projects and gathering information on two US citizens specializing in robotics and IT for the PLA.

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Another such incident underscores the challenges academic institutions and government officials face in adapting US-Chinese technology to the Cold War.

More generally, growing calls to ban China's Confucius Institutes on Western campuses, alleging that Beijing has used them for influence campaigns and tracking Chinese students abroad, are increasing pressures for segregation.

Export control and technonational restrictions

In the future, US export controls will increasingly extend to the world's leading academic institutions. They must adapt to an evolving set of rules and standards, such as:

  • Export control of software, digital networks, computer code and other IP;
  • Adding academic partners (foreign academic institutions) to the list of prohibited organizations.
  • Black list of persons (scientists and students of institutions and organizations).
  • Fees and thresholds for admission of international students by nationality.
  • Restriction or prohibition of financing of foreign organizations.

Failure to comply with this rule the first time can lead to fines and penalties against universities and research institutes that were previously reserved for oil companies and big banks.

Many of these rules run counter to what an open and democratic learning environment should stand for. But China's decades-long techno-nationalist agenda and system of innovative mercantilism have cast Beijing in a destructive role. In many ways, the CCP's challenge to the global academic community presents the same dilemma that its state economic model poses to the world's multilateral institutions: versus adapting behavior to predators.

The next phase of technonationalism will create tension between public policy and the practice of open university environments in the United States, Europe, and beyond.

To remain dynamic places of learning, these institutions must begin implementing risk management measures that truly address the complexities of technonationalism and the US-China technology race.

New regulatory framework

The academic community must work with policymakers and law enforcement to address US-Chinese technonationalism. This includes creating a regulatory framework and management practices that can transform the university community into a highly regulated service sector.

Third-party conflict of interest checks and due diligence practices, such as know-your-customer (KYC) standards in banks. This study is intended for faculty and graduate students conducting applied and specialized research.

Academic institutions and research organizations will enforce "research integrity" standards and punish violators (faculty, students, and the academic institution as a whole) for not disclosing ties to Chinese institutions and programs.

Rules of full disclosure and transparency will also apply, which will also be verified and enforced by independent and certified third parties, where appropriate, between mutual and cooperating academic institutions.

As the technological cold war between the US and China intensifies, scientists and research institutions around the world must learn to adapt. However, in most cases, given the choice between implementing complex and increasingly risky compliance processes and simply refusing to cooperate with China, many organizations will choose the latter.

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Alex Capri is a Hinrich Foundation Fellow, Senior Fellow and Professor at the National University of Singapore's Business School and Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. This article is based on Capri's longer report for the Hinrich Foundation, Eco-nationalism and the Race for technological innovations in the USA and China".

#Shirleyyu #How bad is techno-nationalism? China's view on #theEconomist

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