Official report: China leads technology race with US causing concern in Washington

China’s rapid technological growth poses a threat to the US defense industrial base, according to a new report from data analytics firm Govini.

The report, released on Monday, details nearly $200 billion in spending by the US federal government in fiscal year 2022 on critical technologies but warns that China is still outpacing the United States.

In FY22 (fiscal year 2022), biotechnology at $81.3 billion topped the list of the 12 identified critical technologies in which the US invested.

This difference in the pace of technological progress between the US and China is largely due to patent accessibility, according to Govini.

Over the past five years, the number of patents associated with critical technology areas issued to US-based companies has stagnated, while the number of Chinese companies has steadily increased, according to the report.

Govini finds that in every critical technology sub-segment, China has overtaken the US in terms of patents granted since 2022. Also, since 2018, China’s total number of patents has grown steadily and is now at its highest rate. Meanwhile, the US patenting rate in every critical technology subsegment except nuclear modernization has declined in recent years.

The report is causing concern in Washington. The US continues to rely on Chinese suppliers and investors for critical technologies.

“Patents are a leading indicator of future technological dominance. [Patents] are the seed to make new discoveries that put you at the top of the competitive chain,” said Bob Work, a former assistant secretary of defense who is now Govini’s chairman, during a call with reporters on Monday. “That scares me the most [because] China is doing much better than us in terms of the total number of patents.”

In addition, Govini’s new report finds that some US contractors focused on critical technologies still rely on Chinese suppliers and investors. On Monday, Tara Murphy Dougherty, Govini’s chief executive, noted that all 12 critical technologies in the report heavily depend on Chinese supply.

“We have tremendous confidence in our biggest geopolitical competitor – China, for all federal programs and activities that cover these 12 technology areas,” she said.

Lawmakers are increasingly expressing concerns about China’s dominance when it comes to key technology areas. At the Intelligence and National Security Summit last week, Senator Mark Warner said national security no longer means “the nation with the most tanks, guns, ships and planes,” according to the US publication Defense News.

“With China, this is a technology competition,” he said. “If we don’t invest more, from semiconductors to air capabilities, to [artificial intelligence], to quantum analytics, to biology, to advanced energy, these are areas where, if China dominates, that’s going to be a threat to national security, both in terms of their ability to spread their influence or, frankly, to take us offline (to make us irrelevant – author’s note), to take us out of everything.”

Govini is the leading information platform for companies and agencies operating in the US federal market

Author’s Comment: Govini is the leading information platform for companies and agencies operating in the US federal market. By tracking the entire procurement lifecycle, Govini creates proprietary analytics that answers critical questions related to spending, oversight, risk mitigation, competitive vendor pricing, program development validation, and internal monitoring. Govini’s database of records offers both civilian and defense agencies a unique advantage and service.

The Govini company has collaborated with the US Department of Defense (DoD) in various forms since 2017. In December 2019, the DoD awarded it a five-year, $400 million contract allowing DoD offices to access Govini’s analyses and datasets.

Here’s the list of areas generating critical and emerging technologies and specific applications in order:

Areas generating critical and emerging technologies:

  1. Communications and networks
  2. Semiconductors and microelectronics, including computing, memory, and storage
  3. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  4. Biotechnologies
  5. Positioning, navigation, and timing services
  6. Digital infrastructure
  7. Clean Energy Generation and Storage
  8. Quantum Computing Technologies

Specific applications of critical and emerging technologies:

  1. Automated and Connected Infrastructure
  2. Biobanking – biological sample banks
  3. Automated, Connected, and Electrified Transportation
  4. Critical Minerals Supply Chains
  5. Cybersecurity and Privacy
  6. Carbon Capture, Removal, Use, and Storage