President Xi Jinping has made it clear: When it comes to big data, advanced weaponry, and other innovations in tech and AI, China has plans to surpass the United States as the world’s next techonomic superpower.
But between the trade war with the U.S., the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, and an array of domestic challenges, are China’s goals outpacing its capacity? Or is China building and investing in strategic partnerships that will push the country toward global dominance?”
Staged in the Intelligence Squared U.S. “Unresolved” format, this debate brings together five foreign policy luminaries to tackle three pressing questions:
1) Will the next Silicon Valley be in China?
“China has 4.7 million recent STEM graduates that’s graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math versus about half a million in the U.S,” said Michele Flournoy, co-founder and managing partner of WestExec and former U.S. Undersecretary of Defence for Policy.
“Silicon Valley is not in California. It’s not in China. It’s a state of mind. You know that 75 percent of the tech workers in Silicon Valley are foreign-born. You’re not going to get that kind of an ecosystem in China,” said Susan Thornton, senior fellow at Yale University Paul Tsai China Center and former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
2) Is the Belt and Road Initiative a trillion-dollar blunder?
“The Belt and Road program is based on a false premise, which is that you need these massive investment projects to jump start economic growth,” said Yasheng Huang, a professor at MIT and author of “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics.
“China has succeeded more than it even anticipated. It’s unleashed this case of FOMO, right? Fear of missing out,” said Parag Khanna, founder and managing partner of FutureMap.
3) Will the U.S. and China both lose the trade war?
“Demand for labor in the Chinese import-export sector has fallen by 40 percent in the last quarter of 2018, compared to a year earlier. And there’s starting to be some hurt in the U.S. economy, too,” said Flournoy.
“I’m going to say ‘No,’ because it’s not happening. I don’t think there’s going to be a trade war,” said Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group.