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US-China tech race will determine values that shape the future – Roll Call

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Over the past year, artificial intelligence has burst into the public consciousness, rapidly ascending from an obscure tech term to an integral part of our daily lives. It’s an exciting and fascinating rise that offers a glimpse of what is to come.

In the coming years, a new wave of cutting-edge technologies — such as quantum computing, machine learning, biotechnology and advanced robotics — will fundamentally reshape the way we live, work and connect. However, the extent to which these technologies enrich or undermine our future depends on the values and motivations of those who craft them.

The United States has been at the forefront of global innovation for more than a century. Our leadership in previous technological revolutions, from the steam engine to the internet, has served as a key foundation for our economic prosperity, geopolitical influence and national security.

But times are changing, and America’s position as the global leader in technology and innovation is no longer guaranteed. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is determined to become the world’s preeminent technological superpower by 2049, and it is investing trillions to achieve that goal.

More troubling than the progress and financial figures, however, is China’s approach to technology, which is deeply intertwined with its disturbing model of authoritarian governance.

The CCP routinely employs technology as a tool for social control, as evidenced by its pervasive surveillance apparatus and the “Great Firewall” that censors the internet. In recent years China has managed to export these surveillance and monitoring systems to at least 18 countries worldwide, illustrating the growing threat of digital authoritarianism on a global scale.

In addition, China stands accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity against their Uyghur Muslim minority, charges which include mass detentions and severe restrictions on religious and cultural expressions. Chinese working conditions are characterized by low wages, long working hours and suppressed union activities.

At the same time, China is fueling the deadly fentanyl crisis by subsidizing the export of precursor chemicals used to manufacture the synthetic opioid responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year. The CCP engages in rampant intellectual property theft that is estimated to cost the United States up to $600 billion annually. They relentlessly launch cyberattacks targeting American ports, pipelines, data centers and other key critical infrastructure installations. These digital assaults pose significant risks of disruption and substantial economic consequences, as evidenced by recent intrusions by Chinese military affiliated hackers into roughly two dozen key entities, including a water utility in Hawaii.

These issues are not just domestic concerns; they have serious international implications. As China exports its technology — and with it, its governance model — the global community faces the risk of adopting these repressive practices.

That is why this high-stakes tech race with China is so critical. It’s not merely about who has the best tech platforms and devices; it’s about who sets the rules for the world. The outcome will determine whether we are destined for a future defined by the values of openness and individual liberty or veer toward one characterized by censorship and control.

To secure a future aligned with American and Western values, we must come together and take decisive action. Leaders and lawmakers should set partisanship aside and focus on enacting policies that incentivize innovation and provide our brightest minds with the runway they need to pioneer the breakthroughs of tomorrow. Restrictive policies that dictate how our tech companies can compete, who they can compete with, and how their products should function will only thwart innovation and undermine our ability to compete with China.

We should look to support investment in key technologies through tax credits, public-private partnerships and even direct investments. And we should engage with our like-minded allies to set pro-innovation global tech standards that reflect our shared democratic values, just as we have done in the past with international agreements on trade and arms control.

In the years ahead, technology will be the central arena of global competition. How we fare in this contest will shape the lives of billions and determine the geopolitical and economic balance of power for decades to come. This is our contest to win, but we must be willing to rise to the challenge to ensure the future is one defined by the values we hold dear: freedom, innovation and democracy.

Former Reps. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., and Greg Walden, R-Ore., are Advisory Board members for the American Edge Project.

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