Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Risch, members of the Committee: Good morning, and thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I’m a research fellow specializing in semiconductor policy at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), a nonpartisan think tank at Georgetown University that studies the security implications of new technologies.
Today, I’ll cover three topics. First, the United States’ and China’s respective advantages in technological competition. Second, our best strategy to sustain long-term leadership will be to double down on our current strengths, including our international partnerships and ability to attract the world’s top talent. Third, the importance of maintaining U.S. competitiveness in two linchpin technologies: semiconductors and artificial intelligence.
China’s science and technology has progressed faster than U.S. efforts to track it. China has a vast technology transfer infrastructure, R&D investments equal to the United States, and more than twice as many yearly S&T graduates as America does.1 China’s efforts have resulted in competitive capabilities across facial recognition, genomics, IT applications, military aviation, and materials science. But the United States and its allies retain advantages in many core technologies, especially areas with hard-to-acquire implicit know-how and high capital costs that pose barriers to entry.2 These areas include semiconductor chips, jet engines, certain space-related technologies, and equipment for quantum computing.3 The United States also leads China in fundamental research.4
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- National Science Foundation, “The State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2020,” January 2020, https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsb20201/u-s-and-global-education.
- Andrea Gilli and Mauro Gilli, “Why China Has Not Caught Up Yet: Military-Technological Superiority and the Limits of Imitation, Reverse Engineering, and Cyber Espionage,” International Security, vol. 43, no. 3, p. 141, https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/full/10.1162/isec_a_00337.
- Saif M. Khan, Alexander Mann, and Dahlia Peterson, “The Semiconductor Supply Chain: Assessing National Competitiveness” (Center for Security and Emerging Technology, January 2021), https://cset.georgetown.edu/research/the-semiconductor-supply-chain/; Matt Daniels, “The History and Future of US-China Competition and Cooperation in Space” (John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, 2020), https://www.jhuapl.edu/Content/documents/Daniels-Space.pdf.
- See William Hannas and Huey-Meei Chang, “China’s Access to Foreign AI Technology: An Assessment” (Center for Security and Emerging Technology, September 2019), 7-8, https://cset.georgetown.edu/research/chinas-access-to-foreign-ai-technology/.