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2020 Fall Speaker Series on US-China Relations in the 21st Century

Panel 4: Technology


China's Pursuit of Biotechnology Frontier
Yu Zhou
, Professor, Vassar College

Some Thoughts on the Current Chinese-US Technology-Related Disputes
Martin Kenney
, University of Califormia at Davis

Friday, November 13, 2020, 12:00 pm
Via Zoom (Click to join now)  
Events are free and open to the public.
Meeting ID: 964 7310 9669, Passcode: 274818.

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Yu ZHOU is a professor of Geography at Vassar College. She received her bachelor's and master’s degrees in Urban and Environmental Sciences at Peking University in 1986 and 1989, and PhD in Geography at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 1995. Her research has been in the areas of China’s high-tech innovation, and urban sustainability in China. She is the author of the book The inside story of China’s high-tech industry: making Silicon Valley in Beijing (Roman and Littlefield 2008), and the lead editor of China as Innovation Nation (Oxford University Press 2016) in addition to many journal publications. She is the principal investigator in multiple grants from NSF, Asian Network, Lincoln Institute, Luce Foundation, Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, among others. She has been selected as one of the Public Intellectual Fellows by the National Committee of United States-China Relations. She also published blog entries in Huffington Post, Monkey Cage, Common Dreams, China Beat, ChinaAnalysis, etc. She has been interviewed by New York Times, and Washington Post among others.

Abstract: China's Pursuit of Biotechnology Frontier
China’s response to Covid19 shows striking developments in molecular diagnostics, genomics, and biologic medicine, reflecting a boom underway in biotech in the decade of 2010s, a sector has long lagged other high-tech sectors in China despite decades of effort. Our research examines the knowledge creation and collaboration networks in the Chinese biopharmaceutical industry, in particular, to understand the new strategic coupling between public research institutions and emerging commercial players with limited participation of foreign players. Our findings challenge the conventional wisdom of innovation with regard to strategic coupling with global leading firms, and state-sponsored industrial policy in China. We argue, however, that the global transformations of the biotech regime to enclose bio-tech knowledge through the intellectual property right system provides the necessary backdrop of understanding China’s emerging biopharmaceutical knowledge landscape, the coevolution of public research institutions and strategies of commercial companies.

Martin Kenney is a Distinguished Professor of Community and Regional Development at the University of California, Davis, and a Co-Director at the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy. He was the Arthur Andersen Distinguished Visitor at the University of Cambridge and has been a visiting scholar at the Copenhagen Business School, Hitotsubashi, Kobe, Stanford, Tokyo Universities, and UC San Diego. In 2015, he received the University of California Office of the President’s Award for Outstanding Faculty Leadership for Presidential Initiatives in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. His scholarly interests are in understanding the interplay between digital platforms, finance, and competition in capitalist economies and China. He is interested in how platform dynamics affect people and places. He is a receiving editor at the world’s premier innovation research journal, Research Policy, and edits a Stanford University book series on innovation and technology. His current research examines the impacts of digital platforms on labor, firms, and entrepreneurship.

Abstract: Some Thoughts on the Current Chinese-US Technology-Related Dispute

During the last four decades, China has advanced from being a remarkably laggard nation technologically to a global leader in certain sectors. In industrial sectors such as high-speed trains, electric transportation equipment, batteries, etc. the progress has been nothing short of transformative. However, these sectors are less significant in Chinese-US trade relations as the US is not a serious competitor in any of them. The Chinese-US technology disputes are centered upon Chinese success in wireless digital communications systems from the base station to the handset, artificial intelligence, data center management, online apps and, in particular, payment systems, and, more recently, the remarkable success of the short-video format application, TikTok. The most contentious issue is, of course, Huawei’s global leadership in 5G, which will become the backbone of wireless communications in the future.

We center the discussion on the overall concern that the US is a faltering economy. The talk also discusses how the Chinese successes in ICT remain based upon access to the tools to design and manufacture the highly advanced integrated circuits – nearly all of which are produced by US firms. discuss how the US responds. The Chinese position is even weaker because it does not have the know-how to even produce such chips. However, the production know-how is located in two East Asian locations – South Korea and Taiwan (TSMC is the global production leader followed by Samsung and Intel). The final reflection is that, in general, China is still unable to produce the very most sophisticated manufacturing equipment, perhaps, because of the relative immaturity of the manufacturing tradition. The development of these skills is ongoing but complete catch-up is still a decade or more in the future.

Us-China Relations Speaker Series - Panel 1-Economy

Panel 3: International Relations


US-China Relations and the Cold War Comparison: Apples and Oranges
Avery Goldstein
, David M. Knott Professor, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)

China’s Military Strategy and US-China Relations
Taylor Fravel
, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Friday, November 6, 2020, 12:00 pm
Via Zoom (Click to join now)
Events are free and open to the public.
Meeting ID: 964 7310 9669, Passcode: 274818.

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Abstract: US-China Relations and the Cold War Comparison: Apples and Oranges
In 2019, US-China relations that had been characterized by a pattern of ups and downs over the past quarter-century took a clear and possibly irreversible turn for the worse. This change has provoked debate about whether China and the US have already become rivals, perhaps adversaries, in a new cold war. I examine five underlying influences shaping the newly intensifying rivalry. These influences reflect key features of the international context within which the US and China find themselves (systemic or structural constraints) and the fact that the two rivals happen to be the US and China (national or unit-level attributes). Chief among the international constraints are the structural conditions of anarchy and the distribution of power that defines the system’s polarity. The national attributes most relevant to understanding the evolution of US-China relations are the geography of the theater where the two countries’ vital interests intersect and two aspects of their militarily relevant technological capabilities. Examining these five influences draws attention to reasons for some important similarities but also differences between the current rivalry and the Soviet-American rivalry of the Cold War. It makes clear that a Cold War II, if that is what is emerging, will not simply replicate the rivalry of Cold War I. Unfortunately, this examination also directs attention to some troubling new concerns about the distinctiveness of the new rivalry and the challenges they may present in the coming decades.

Us-China Relations Speaker Series - Panel 1-Economy

Panel 2: Immigration


Ambitious and Anxious: How Chinese College Students Succeed and Struggle in American Higher Education
Yingyi Ma
, Associated Professor, Department of Sociology, Director of Asian/Asian American Studies, Syracuse University

How Chinese Citizens Choose Transnational Migration Pathways
Vanessa Fong
, Olin Professor in Asian Studies, Chair of Anthropology and Sociology, Amherst College

Friday, October 23, 2020, 12:00 pm
Via Zoom (Click to join now)
Events are free and open to the public.
Meeting ID: 964 7310 9669, Passcode: 274818.

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Abstract: How Chinese Citizens Choose Transnational Migration Pathways
Vanessa Fong will talk about how and why a cohort of mostly working-class and middle-class Chinese citizens choose to go abroad, stay abroad, or return to China, based on a 2012-2013 survey conducted with 1,548 graduates of a a middle school, a vocational high school, and a non-keypoint college prep high school in Dalian City, Liaoning Province, China, 18 percent of whom ended up studying abroad (mostly in Japan, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore, and South Korea), well as on interviews and participant observation among several hundred of them and their friends, relatives, and former classmates between 1998 and 2020. She found that their desire to go abroad was strongly motivated by their desire for flexible developed world citizenship and enabled by the rapid rise in Chinese incomes and property values during the first two decades of the twenty-first century, and that, while the United States topped most prospective transnational migrants' lists of preferences for a destination country, their choice of which country to study in was determined more by the ease or difficulty of getting a visa to enter that country than by any longstanding plans or preferences. Similarly, their choice of when and whether to return to China, stay in the country they first migrated to, or move on to a third country, was often determined more by the different opportunities that China and various developed countries offered them at key decision-making moments, rather than by any longstanding plans or preferences. For these reasons, their decisions about whether to migrate to or stay in the United States were strongly influenced by black swan events such as the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies in the US between 2016 and 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Us-China Relations Speaker Series - Panel 1-Economy

Panel 1: Economy


China’s Industrial Policy: New Technological Revolution or Old-fashioned Protectionism?
So Kwanlok Professor Barry Naughton
, University of California at San Diego

China's Key Role in Scaling Low Carbon Energy Technologies
Prof. John Helveston
, George Washington University

Friday, October 9, 2020, 12:00 pm
Via Zoom
Events are free and open to the public.

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Abstract: China's key role in scaling low carbon energy technologies
Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement will require net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 and substantial reductions before then. It will also require collaboration with China, which has emerged as the global leader in the mass production of low-carbon energy technologies (LCETs). In part because of China’s investments in manufacturing, the LCETs required to meet climate targets have become increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuel sources. But some attribute China’s rapid rise in LCET sectors to unfair industrial policies—such as forced technology transfer requirements, massive subsidies, and outright intellectual property (IP) theft—aimed at strategically dominating the next generation of energy technologies. Trade relations between China and the world are currently unsettled, especially with the United States, a leading producer of both LCET research and development (R&D) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Against this backdrop, we outline why engaging with China is the more promising path to accelerate the global deployment of LCETs and to rapidly bring new technologies to mass production.

Link to paper in Science

Us-China Relations Speaker Series - Panel 1-Economy

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