Skip navigation

Measure Twice, Cut Once: Assessing Some China–US Technology Connections

November 17, 2020


Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy

Christine H. Fox, Assistant Director of Policy and Analysis, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and former acting Deputy Secretary of Defense

Opening remarks were provided by Eliot A. Cohen, Dean, Johns Hopkins SAIS

The discussion was moderated by Hal Brands, Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins SAIS
The school hosted a discussion on the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory’s recently commissioned papers series, "Measure Twice, Cut Once: Assessing China–US Technology Connections.”

The conversation began with Brands noting the complex technological relationship between the US and China. Fox weighed in by stating that R&D is a critical component of national security, and that while China’s foundational leaps in math in particular, have given it an edge, this competition is a race without a finish line. Danzing echoed this sentiment noting that he started this project to help get a better grasp of how China thinks of technology.

In regards to a question from Brands about if the overwhelming supply-chain reliance on China has weakened the US, Fox commented that while the US should be vigilant of Huawei, decoupling from China could actually lead to Beijing achieving autarky in technology. This she believed would actually weaken America’s hand in the long-run.

Similarly, Danzing noted how both nations are a mix of public-private partnerships when it comes to technology, and that biology, pathogens, and space were areas of great potential cooperation. Fox concurred with this, noting that COVID-19 showed how disease diplomacy allowed China to spread its strategic objectives abroad.

As for future course of action, Fox called for increased investments in STEM education as well as a greater share of technical experts taking part in policy. Danzing concurred with her, but noted that this was long-term, and that only immigration, could offset the immediate advantages China was gaining.