‘China Will Soon Lead the US in Tech’

Graham Allison, a professor of government at Harvard, and Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, writing in a column for WSJ: Last year China produced 50% of the world's computers and mobile phones; the U.S. produced only 6%. China produces 70 solar panels for each one produced in the U.S., sells four times the number of electric vehicles, and has nine times as many 5G base stations, with network speeds five times as fast as American equivalents. In the advanced technology likely to have the greatest effect on economics and security in the coming decade -- artificial intelligence -- China is ahead of the U.S. in crucial areas. A spring 2021 report from the National Security Commission on AI warned that China is poised to overtake the U.S. as the global leader in AI by 2030. U.S.-born students are earning roughly as many doctorates each year in AI-related fields as in 1990, while China is on track to graduate twice as many science, technology engineering and mathematics Ph.D.s as the U.S. by 2025. The Harvard report adds that China now clearly tops the U.S. in practical AI applications, including facial recognition, voice recognition and fintech. The U.S. still has a dominant position in the semiconductor industry, which it has held for almost half a century. But China may soon catch up in two important arenas: semiconductor fabrication and chip design. China's production of semiconductors has surpassed America's, with its share of global production rising to 15% from less than 1% in 1990, while the U.S. share has fallen from 37% to 12%. In 5G, the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Board reports that China is on track to replicate the economic and military advantages America gained from being the global leader in 4G. China has installed 950,000 base stations to America's 100,000. By the end of last year, 150 million Chinese were using 5G mobile phones with average speeds of 300 megabits a second, while only six million Americans had access to 5G with speeds of 60 megabits a second. America's 5G service providers have put more focus on advertising their capabilities than on building infrastructure. The Chinese Communist Party has made no secret of its ambitions: China intends to become the global leader in the technologies that will shape the decades ahead.

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