December 4, 2022

The Agency at the Center of America’s Tech Fight With China

“The future lies in who can, in fact, own the future as it relates to technology, quantum computing, a whole range of things, including in medical fields,” Mr. Biden said.

“I see stiff competition with China,” he added. “They have an overall goal to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world and the most powerful country in the world. That’s not going to happen on my watch because the United States are going to continue to grow and expand.”

Last week, the Commerce Department said it had issued subpoenas to multiple Chinese technology companies asking them to provide more information on their activities, potentially presaging tighter restrictions on their use and transfer of American data.

U.S. officials will soon need to make difficult choices about specific policy actions. That includes how to use the Commerce Department’s powers, including whether to block more exports of American technology, whether to keep or scrap Mr. Trump’s tariffs on foreign metals, and how to set the standards for national security reviews of foreign investments.

The complication stems from China’s position as both the largest export market for many multinational companies, and America’s biggest acknowledged security threat.

China’s authoritarian leaders have proposed plans to expand their market share in emerging industries like semiconductors, artificial intelligence and quantum computing, while easing the country’s dependence on foreign energy and technology. And as Beijing’s economic influence and technological capacities grow, so will its military and geopolitical influence.

“China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system — all the rules, values, and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said this month in his first major address, in which he called the U.S. relationship with China “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century.”

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