In a December report, the Department of Defense (DoD) assessed the global expansion by China and what it could mean for the United States’ future defense capabilities. The assessment focused on both military and nonmilitary means of expansion.
The DoD sees China’s increasing technological footprint as a major indicator of China’s growth on a global scale. The report notes that China is making continued efforts to “expand in science and technology cooperation, promote its unique national technical standards, further its objectives for technology transfer, and potentially enable politically-motivated censorship.” It also sees China making headway in artificial intelligence (AI) and notes that China hopes to be the world leader in AI by 2030.
While the DoD doesn’t see every progressive activity as a threat, they are concerned with some activities that may affect the freedoms of other countries or impact the security of the United States. In response to the growing concern, the DoD wrote that they support an interagency initiative of confronting China in cases of “market-distorting policies and practices, forced technology transfers, failure to respect intellectual property, and cyber intrusions.”
China is cited as acquiring and developing dual-use technologies through legitimate and unlawful means. The nation-state is using imports, foreign direct investment, industrial and cyber espionage, and the establishment of foreign research and development (R&D) centers to obtain the tech.
Along with acquiring dual-use technologies, China is committing plenty of R&D resources towards nuclear fusion, hypersonic technology, and the deployment of an expanding constellation of multi-purpose satellites.
The DoD warns that if the United States does not maintain its advantage in this field against both legal and illegal pursuits by the Chinese, those actions will “erode the U.S. National Security Innovation Base.”