Co-Chairs Cleveland and Price, distinguished Commissioners and staff, thank you for the opportunity to participate in today’s hearing. It is an honor to be here alongside esteemed experts on the different panels. I am currently the Director of Biotechnology programs and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) at Georgetown University, where I lead our Biotechnology efforts. For most of my career I have studied China’s science and technology (S&T) development and innovation ecosystem, including its efforts to acquire technology and technological know-how, how these efforts have changed over time and the policies and programs China uses to meet its strategic goals. My testimony today will first address the assumptions that are made about innovation in China, the policies and programs it has put in place to grow its national innovation base–especially those related to human capital–and the implications of these policies for the U.S.-China strategic competition. In particular, I will discuss how our systems differ, and how the role of the state impacts and influences all aspects of China’s S&T ecosystem, from universities to its state key labs and its associated industries. I will provide specific examples of how these industry-academia linkages play out in different areas such as AI and biotechnology. Lastly, I’ll offer lessons learned, which include:
- Talent development is essential for Beijing to meet its strategic goals and will be a major piece of US-China competition. China has made talent development and acquisition––including leveraging its diaspora–a central part of its technology development and acquisition strategy since the country’s “opening” around 1978.
- China’s system is not the same. It takes a holistic approach to developing technology—blurring the lines between public, private, civilian and military. Our policies and mitigation strategies need to reflect this reality.
- We must not conflate return on investment (ROI) and commercial success with innovation. Sometimes China’s goals are ROI and commercial success, but meeting its strategic goals––even in the commercial area in the short term––does not necessarily mean return on investment or commercial success. Beijing has shown a willingness to accept inefficiencies to meet broader goals. An example of this is its development of 5G and DNA sequencing.
- China will gain the advantage in technology competition if we don’t acknowledge and address those areas where national security and market forces diverge.
- Giving scientists a problem to solve is not the same as giving them a solution. Political control is not the same as scientific control. Scientists––and innovation––will thrive with funding, lab space and freedom to pursue their craft.
- Regardless of their personal views, Chinese scientists, businesspeople and officials have to respond to the government or security services if they are asked for information or data. China intimidates and harshly silences its critics—this has only grown more so in the past few years. This increasingly includes its citizens abroad.