Australia is positioned to be significantly affected by Washington’s attempts to unravel its technological relationship with Beijing, according to new research from the United States Studies Centre.
The research finds that Australia’s deep enmeshment with the United States’ scientific infrastructure, coupled with its geopolitical and economic relationship with China, will leave it increasingly vulnerable as the US Congress and the Trump administration move to protect Washington’s technological advantage over Beijing.
Though America’s policies are aimed at its strategic rival, Research Fellow Brendan Thomas-Noone warns such policies will have global and long-term implications for close allies like Australia.
“Allies will face growing pressure to limit their science and technological interaction with China in critical dual-use fields and may be required to adopt restrictive export control policies in order to continue technological collaboration with the United States in some emerging technologies,” Mr Thomas-Noone explains.
“Australian research universities — often collaborating with both US and Chinese government agencies, state-owned enterprises and defence companies — could face significant disruption and limitation in who they partner with, how they structure their laboratories and the way they source funding.”
“Australia’s access, integration and collaboration with the United States’ leading technology hubs and minds will become increasingly predicated on its corresponding relationship with China,” Mr Thomas-Noone says, but warns “As it stands, large parts of Australia’s R&D base, a source of strategic and economic strength, may not endure the fragmentation of the world’s innovation ecosystem.”
Tech wars: US-China technology competition and what it means for Australia is now available for download.
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- Washington is highly attuned to the long-term consequences and links between scientific progress, technological adaptation and national power in its burgeoning competition with Beijing.
- US Congress and the Trump administration have embarked on a ponderous — and at times heavy-handed — effort to protect America’s technological advantage across multiple domains and through actions by several branches of government.
- Australia’s access, integration and collaboration with the United States’ leading technology hubs and minds will become increasingly predicated on its corresponding relationship with China.
- As the global technological ecosystem becomes more nationalised, securitised and difficult to navigate for industry and governments alike, Australia should implement a national research and development strategy that builds its own technological ‘counterweight.’
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