China has taken significant steps to implement national strategies and encourage investment in order to surpass the U.S. in high tech fields like artificial intelligence. In this podcast, Paul Haenle sat down with Elsa Kania, adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a former Carnegie–Tsinghua Young Ambassador, to discuss the impacts of increasing competition in technology development and innovation on the U.S.-China relationship and the consequences for future cooperation in these fields.

Kania pointed to the 2016 triumph of a computer over a human in the game Go as an event that spurred China’s government and military to rapidly develop their artificial intelligence capabilities. She argued that it is necessary to recognize the deep entanglement of the U.S. and China’s innovation ecosystems as bilateral relations enter an era of greater strategic competition. Kania said that China is exploiting the openness of the U.S. system through both human and cyber espionage, and targeted measures focused on countering China’s unlawful infractions are needed to protect U.S. strategic interests. She also noted that foreign investment and collaboration are integral to American innovation and that it will be difficult to strike a balance between protecting U.S. technology and innovation while continuing to benefit from cooperation with China.

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle holds the Maurice R. Greenberg Director's Chair at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy based at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Haenle’s research focuses on Chinese foreign policy and U.S.-China relations.

Elsa B. Kania

Elsa B. Kania is an adjunct fellow with the Center for a New American Security’s Technology and National Security Program.