A study by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has revealed that China is already better than the U.S. and the EU in 37 out of 44 key innovation areas – the country has an answer to almost every technical challenge in the world. The study is based on a new technology tracker that compares different countries, their technologies and their respective levels of development. With it, ASPI researchers sifted through more than 2.2 million research papers and found that China already leads in research areas such as advanced aircraft engines or nano-functional materials. In some areas, the top ten research centers are all in China.
The EU continues to lag behind, while China is expanding its innovation in key technological areas. China could soon control global supply chains in key technological areas through young innovators and their ability to turn research breakthroughs into commercial products. There is also the possibility that China will lead in future technologies that do not exist now. The country leads in post-quantum cryptography and quantum sensing research, for example, as well as in 5G, energy and environmental technologies, drones, autonomous driving and hypersonic aircraft.
The study concludes that the West must strengthen its competitiveness in order not to be left further behind in the global innovation competition. The authors do not advocate sanctions against China, but recommend improving oneself rather than weakening competition. The costs of catching up are already high, but the costs of inaction are much greater.