Christopher Darby & Sarah Sewall, Foreign Affairs |
Since the early days of the Cold War, the United States has led the world in technology. Over the course of the so-called American century, the country conquered space, spearheaded the Internet, and brought the world the iPhone. In recent years, however, China has undertaken an impressive effort to claim the mantle of technological leadership, investing hundreds of billions of dollars in robotics, artificial intelligence, microelectronics, green energy, and much more.
Washington has tended to view Beijing’s massive technology investments primarily in military terms, but defense capabilities are merely one aspect of great-power competition today—little more than table stakes. Beijing is playing a more sophisticated game, using technological innovation as a way of advancing its goals without having to resort to war.
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