PICKERING/Congress shouldn’t help China surpass U.S.
America is a force for peace and prosperity in the world. We use our military strength to promote peace. Our economy is driven by innovation, competition, and hard work that leads the world in gross domestic product (GDP). Importantly, we are the face of modern democracy and a beacon to the world for liberty and freedom.
Over the last few decades, as the world has entered the digital age, we’ve often been the first country to lead in many key technological advancements that shape how our world works.
However, like many things in life, nothing is guaranteed, including our position as a global hub for innovation.
China has serious ambitions. They are eager to surpass the United States.
China wants to become the global leader in technology, and they are working hard to make that vision come to fruition by pouring resources and investments into their homegrown technology companies. They’re doing this so China leads in areas like 5G and artificial intelligence, which will be the backbone of the next generation of tech developments. And when it comes to 5G, in many cases, China is already achieving this goal. Earlier this year, the former Google CEO stated that “the U.S. government’s ‘dithering’ has left the country ‘well behind’ China in the race to build out 5G technology…”
Instead of focusing on ensuring America remains ahead in this high-stakes battle with China, Congress is considering anti-innovation legislation that would handcuff our U.S.-based tech leaders as we are fighting to keep up with China’s growing tech power.
American technology and innovation have helped us build the world’s leading economy and critical advancements in healthcare and medicine, manufacturing, military capabilities, and so much more. Importantly, American tech firms also provide tools that help American small businesses reach beyond local Main Streets and to consumers well outside of their communities, allowing them to grow in ways they otherwise could not.
In an effort to counter our leadership, China is working in partnership with other authoritarian regimes, including Russia, to dominate the digital world. A 2018 report by National Science Foundation (NSF) found that “the United States is the global leader in science and technology…however, U.S. global share of science and tech activities is declining as other nations -- especially China -- continue to rise.”
After that somber warning four-plus years ago, we’re still struggling. While Congress has made some progress, it must be careful not to undercut our edge when it comes to ill-advised anti-innovation bills.
In fact, a new poll finds that Western nations are aligned in sharing concerns about China and Russia’s growing tech influence (88 percent concern in the U.S., 80 percent in Europe) and believe it’s a threat to their country’s national security (76 percent in the U.S., 72 percent in Europe) and economy (76 percent in the U.S., 70 percent in Europe).
It’s unacceptable for America to allow China and Russia to dominate the tech landscape and develop the technologies that free countries could rely on for our safety and security. China and Russia are attempting to undermine the UT global standards and rules of the internet in order to surveil, control, censor and abuse fundamental human rights. These authoritarian values are not the values we want leading the world and shaping future technologies.
This is a must-win battle for the U.S. and our allies. In response to the rising threat of China and Russia, the same poll finds that 87 percent of Americans and 88 percent of Europeans believe in working together with our allies against shared adversaries. If not, the security, prosperity and values of an open and accessible internet are in jeopardy.
However, to win, Washington needs to support the U.S. technology sector and the innovation emerging from American companies which are building the technologies of the future. This means making wise policy decisions advancing our leadership and rejecting anti-innovation legislation that only helps our adversaries at the expense of America’s tech sector, national security, and economy.
The United States has cemented itself as the beacon of innovation on the world stage. Congress must help us maintain this leadership, not weaken it.
Chip Pickering is C.E.O. of INCOMPAS and a former Member of Congress.