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The Deep Roots and Long Branches of Chinese Technonationalism

Dr. Evan A. Feigenbaum

By Evan Feigenbaum (original source Macro Polo)

“Among the most contentious issues now pitting Beijing against its economic partners is China’s seemingly boundless pursuit of cutting-edge strategic technologies. Nearly every day seems to bring another headline about the fight for preeminence in a new sector: China, The New York Times tells us, wants artificial intelligence to be “made in China by 2030.” In the semiconductor industry, meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal argues that the United States and China are locked in a fight for dominance. And then there’s biotechnology, where, says the Financial Times, these same two countries are battling it out over genetic data as each side’s scientists and engineers seek to lead the industry globally.

The acquisition of technology has always been a central part of China’s economic reform effort. But until recently, the pursuit was characterized mostly by technology purchases—or in some cases, by out-and-out intellectual property theft. China’s government and firms sought technology through business deals and joint ventures. They bought technology products wholesale, and encouraged foreign firms to set up shop in China with technology-heavy operations. Sometimes, they reverse engineered foreign technologies and developed indigenous alternatives, efforts that subsequently helped to modernize China’s own industrial base.”

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