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As America steps back from the global stage, China pursues a starring role

David Ignatius on

American dominance has been built partly on the primacy of our scientific and technological laboratories, which have drawn the best and brightest from around the world. But the Chinese are challenging here, too. China is building at least 50 joint-venture science and technology labs with OBOR countries and plans over the next five years to train up to 5,000 foreign scientists, engineers and managers, the study notes.

As foreign scientists pull back from some U.S. labs because of visa and government-grant worries, the Chinese are doubling down. According to the second Air Force study, China surpasses the U.S. in annual patent applications, is now No. 2 in peer-reviewed research articles and in 2014 awarded more than twice as many degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.

China is mobilizing its best tech talent for this global empire. China Telecom plans to lay a 150,000-kilometer fiber-optic network covering 48 African nations. IZP, a big-data company, plans to expand soon to 120 countries. BeiDou, a government agency, is building a GPS-like satellite navigation system for all Eurasia.

There's an eerie sense in today's world that China is racing to capture the commanding heights of technology and trade. Meanwhile, under the banner of "America First," the Trump administration is protecting coal-mining jobs and questioning climate science.

Sorry, friends, but this is how empires rise and fall.

 

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David Ignatius can be reached via Twitter: @IgnatiusPost.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group


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