An Australian think tank’s report has revealed that China is ahead of the rest of the world in 37 of the 44 critical technologies, leaving Western democracies lagging in the competition for research and scientific advancements.

According to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), China has already achieved dominance in several critical technology fields, including space, energy, biotechnology, advanced materials, defence, robotics, the environment, key quantum technology and artificial intelligence (AI). This puts China in a position to potentially become the world’s leading technology superpower.

China has achieved dominance in critical technologies such as machine learning, nuclear energy, quantum sensors, electric batteries, drones, photovoltaics, and critical minerals extraction.

ASPI’s report found that China has become so dominant in some fields that all of the world’s top 10 leading research institutions for certain technologies are based in China.

Critical Technologies

The US is leading in only seven critical technologies, which include quantum computing and space launch systems which receive funding from various sources including the US, UK and Australian governments, as well as private sector sources such as the tech and defence industries.

Critical Technologies: Other among Top 5 Countries

According to the report, the UK and India are among the top five countries in 29 out of 44 critical technologies, while South Korea and Germany made the top five in 20 and 17 technologies, respectively.

China’s increasing dominance in critical technologies, attributed to long-term policy planning, should serve as a warning to democratic nations.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)

ASPI mentioned in a commentary that China’s current leading position in research in almost all sectors, including emerging technologies that are yet to exist, places the country in a position to excel in the long term.

It warns that if left unchecked, China’s dominance could shift global power and influence to an authoritarian state, where the testing, development and application of critical and military technologies are not transparent or scrutinized by independent civil society and media.

Critical Technologies

ASPI has made 23 recommendations for Western countries, their partners and allies to counter China’s dominance in critical technologies. Some of these recommendations include establishing sovereign wealth funds to finance research and development (R&D), making it easier to obtain technology visas, collaborating on R&D grants, and fostering new public-private partnerships.

There is an intense rivalry between the US and China for power and influence, which has resulted in efforts to decouple their economies. To limit China’s tech industry and boost domestic manufacturing, President Joe Biden’s administration has implemented various export controls and tax incentives.

China’s genetics firm BGI and cloud computing company Inspur have been added to a US trade blacklist for their alleged support to the Chinese military and government surveillance, as per the announcement by the US Department of Commerce on Thursday.