China systematically extracts advanced technology from the West. It does so legally, by mining open source databases, investing in our most advanced companies, and compelling technology transfer as a condition for doing business in China, as well as illicitly, through cybertheft and industrial espionage.
How we choose to react will define whether the United States continues to lead in—and reap the benefits of—technical innovation and whether we will be able to set the global norms and standards for technology development and use. Previous U.S. presidents of both parties engaged China in dialogue on IP theft and market access for U.S. firms, among other issues. They were unable to correct China’s behavior. So far, the Trump Administration has focused on trade negotiations and on “defensive” measures: from Congress reforming CFIUS in 2018 and a proposed tightening of export controls, to scrutinizing and slowing cross-border collaboration, and discussing restricting Chinese student visas to the United States. i Yet instead of closing the U.S. system, as we are beginning to do, we can and must compete with China, and in some cases, find ways to collaborate.