Report says China holds ‘tremendous lead’ in global competition for critical technology

China has a “stunning lead” in 37 of 44 critical and emerging technologies as Western democracies lose global competition for research output, the security think tank said Thursday after tracking defense, space, energy and biotech.
A study funded by the US State Department found that the United States often comes in second place, although it leads global research in high performance computing, quantum computing, small satellites and vaccines.

“Western democracies are losing global technological competition, including the race for scientific and research breakthroughs,” the report says, urging governments to increase investment in research.

China has achieved “tremendous leadership in high-impact research” through government programs.
The report called for democracies to collaborate more frequently to build secure supply chains and “promptly advance strategically important technologies.”
ASPI tracked the most cited scientific papers that it said were most likely to lead to patents.
It says that China’s surprise breakthrough in hypersonic missiles in 2021 would have been detected sooner if China’s strong research had been discovered.
“Over the past five years, China has created 48.49% of the world’s high-performance research projects on advanced aircraft engines, including hypersonics, and is home to seven of the world’s top 10 research institutes,” the report said.
In the fields of photonic sensors and quantum communications, China’s research prowess could lead it to “go into the shadows” to oversee Western intelligence, including the Five Eyes of Britain, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the report said. .

National flows of research talent were also tracked and monopoly risks identified.

China is likely to become a monopoly in 10 areas, including synthetic biology, where it produces a third of all research, as well as electric batteries, 5G and nanomanufacturing.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences, a government research body, ranked first or second in most of the 44 technologies tracked, which cover defense, space, robotics, energy, environment, biotechnology, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced materials and quantum technology.
China backed up its research with knowledge gained abroad, and data showed that a fifth of China’s top researchers were trained in the country of the five eyes, the report said.
The study recommended visa verification programs to limit illegal technology transfer and instead encouraged international cooperation with security allies.

Australian universities said they were complying with foreign influence laws designed to stop illegal technology transfers to China, but also noted that international cooperation is an integral part of university research.