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  • Ryan Wittler

China vs. the U.S. in the 21st Century

Associated Press

A new report on “The Great Technological Rivalry” from Harvard’s Belfer Center has found that while China has spent the last several years investing heavily in the 21st century’s most important technologies, the U.S. has fallen behind.

Some highlights:

The report found that in each of this century’s “foundational” technologies – artificial intelligence, semiconductors, 5G, quantum information science, biotechnology, and green energy – China could soon be, or already is, the world’s leader.

According to the report, last year, China built 50% of the world’s computers and mobile phones, while the U.S. produced just 6%. China also sells four times the number of electric vehicles as us, has nine times as many 5G stations (with speeds five times faster), and produces 70 solar panels for each one made here.

China is also beginning to dominate artificial intelligence. According to the report, U.S.-born students today are earning roughly as many doctorates in AI-related fields as in 1990, while China is on track to graduate twice as many STEM PhDs as the U.S. by 2025.

Solid, but precarious ground:

The report found the U.S. is still the dominant player in one vital industry: semiconductors, a mantle it’s held for nearly 50 years.

Even then, China is gaining ground in two important areas regarding semiconductors: fabrication and chip design. According to the report, China’s global share of semiconductor production has risen to 15% from less than 1% in 1990, while the U.S. share has fallen from 37% to 12%.

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