The West's Technological Edge in Geopolitical Competition

The US and its allies enjoy a significant technological advantage over China and Russia.  The Chinese are working hard to catch up but the West is not standing still. It is making huge investments in research and development to maintain this edge as it becomes increasingly clear that the outcome of the ongoing international geopolitical competition will largely be determined by technology. 

East-West Comparison of GDP, R&D. Source: IMF (GDP), OECD (R&am...

In 2019, the United States and its allies invested $1.5 trillion in research and development, far outpacing the combined Chinese and Russian R&D investment of half a trillion USD.  This gap will likely narrow if the East's GDP continues to grow faster than the West's, allowing for higher investment in technology. 

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US, EU, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have made it clear that the Western allies can and will use technology sanctions to control the behavior of China and Russia. 

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will no longer fabricate computer chips for Russia, according to media reports. The ban will particularly affect Russia's Elbrus and Baikal processors, unless China agrees to step in to manufacture these chips, and risk additional US sanctions itself. Both Russian processors use mature 28 nm technology. The world's most advanced TSMC fabrication technology today is 5 nanometers. The best US-based Intel can do today is 7nm technology. China's SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation) has the capability to produce chips using 14 nm technology.  Semiconductor chips form the core of all modern systems from automobiles to airplanes to smartphones, computers, home appliances, toys, telecommunications and advanced weapons systems.  

While China is the  biggest volume producer of semiconductor components in the world,  the Chinese design centers and fabs rely on tools and equipment supplied by the West to deliver products. Western companies dominate all the key steps in this critical and highly complex industry, from chip design (led by U.S.-based Nvidia, Intel, Qualcomm and AMD and Britain’s ARM) to the fabrication of advanced chips (led by Intel, Taiwan’s TSMC and South Korea’s Samsung ) and the sophisticated machines that etch chip designs onto wafers (produced by Applied Materials and Lam Research in the U.S., the Netherlands’ ASML Holding and Japan’s Tokyo Electron ), according to the Wall Street Journal

There is no question that the current western technology sanctions can seriously squeeze Russia. However, overusing such sanctions could backfire in the long run if the US rivals, particularly China and Russia, decide to invest billions of dollars to build their own capacity. This would seriously erode western technology domination and result in major market share losses for the US tech companies, particularly those in Silicon Valley. 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on April 13, 2022 at 11:34am

Renewed Great Power Competition:
Implications for Defense—Issues for
Updated March 10, 2022

National Defense Strategy (NDS),
5 which formally reoriented U.S. national security strategy and
U.S. defense strategy toward an explicit primary focus on great power competition with China
and Russia.
The Biden Administration’s March 2021 Interim National Security Strategy Guidance states that
“we face a world of rising nationalism, receding democracy, growing rivalry with China, Russia,
and other authoritarian states, and a technological revolution that is reshaping every aspect of our
lives,” and that protecting the security of the American people “requires us to meet challenges not
only from great powers and regional adversaries, but also from violent and criminal non-state
actors and extremists, and from threats like climate change, infectious disease, cyberattacks, and
disinformation that respect no national borders.”
6 The document further states (emphasis as in
We must also contend with the reality that the distribution of power across the world is
changing, creating new threats. China, in particular, has rapidly become more assertive.
It is the only competitor potentially capable of combining its economic, diplomatic,
military, and technological power to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open
international system. Russia remains determined to enhance its global influence and play a
disruptive role on the world stage. Both Beijing and Moscow have invested heavily in
efforts meant to check U.S. strengths and prevent us from defending our interests and allies
around the world. Regional actors like Iran and North Korea continue to pursue gamechanging capabilities and technologies, while threatening U.S. allies and partners and
challenging regional stability. We also face challenges within countries whose governance
is fragile, and from influential non-state actors that have the ability to disrupt American
interests. Terrorism and violent extremism, both domestic and international, remain
significant threats. But, despite these steep challenges, the United States’ enduring
advantages—across all forms and dimensions of our power—enable us to shape the future
of international politics to advance our interests and values, and create a freer, safer, and
more prosperous world….
Defending America also means setting clear priorities within our defense budget. First and
foremost, we will continue to invest in the people who serve in our all-volunteer force and
their families. We will sustain readiness and ensure that the U.S. Armed Forces remain the
best trained and equipped force in the world. In the face of strategic challenges from an
increasingly assertive China and destabilizing Russia, we will assess the appropriate
structure, capabilities, and sizing of the force, and, working with the Congress, shift our
emphasis from unneeded legacy platforms and weapons systems to free up resources for
investments in the cutting-edge technologies and capabilities that will determine our
military and national security advantage in the future. We will streamline the processes for
developing, testing, acquiring, deploying, and securing these technologies. We will ensure
that we have the skilled workforce to acquire, integrate, and operate them. And we will
shape ethical and normative frameworks to ensure these technologies are used responsibly.
We will maintain the proficiency of special operations forces to focus on crisis response
and priority counterterrorism and unconventional warfare missions. And we will develop
capabilities to better compete and deter gray zone actions. We will prioritize defense
investments in climate resiliency and clean energy. And we will work to ensure that the
Department of Defense is a place of truly equal opportunity where our service members do
not face discrimination or the scourge of sexual harassment and assault….

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 13, 2022 at 9:16pm

Unpacking the geopolitics of technology

How second- and third-order implications of emerging tech are changing the world
Developing new technologies used to be primarily an economic and commercial issue, but it is increasingly also about foreign and security policy. Emerging technologies in particular have become both an object and a driver of international cooperation and competition, shaping the global landscape in different and sometimes unexpected ways. To put it simple, high tech has come to signify high politics, too. Today, digital and tech advancements are geopolitical issues of the highest order, even more so with the second wave of digital innovations, which are more systemic in reach and will determine future economic and technological supremacy as well as respective security environments.

The development of cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, for instance, has become the new playing field for great power competition between the United States and China, both striving for digital supremacy and spheres of economic influence. Such increasing bipolarity in the international system comes with a price tag for many countries around the globe. European states in particular are torn between their alignment in terms of values with the United States and their dependency on close economic ties with China for the sake of their own economic health. In worrying about an escalating rivalry, many countries and state conglomerates have started to pursue their own digital sovereignty, yet lag behind in the global race of tech development, innovation, and cyber capabilities.

On technology-induced societal changes
The international debate concerning technological change also includes many ethical, social, and legal questions in fields such as human rights and individual freedoms, competition and market structure, consumer protection, or public health. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised significant questions about the role of technology in crisis management. Conversations around technological advances, new forms of work, and the change in skills needed have dominated the employment policy debate in many countries around the world. The platform economy, technological advances, and artificial intelligence are irrevocably changing economic structures, tasks, and ways of working, and even what we understand by “work.”

Europe, for example, is already a patchwork of highly varied local economies and markets. McKinsey Global Institute claims that by 2030, more than half of Europe’s workforce will face significant transitions. Automation will most likely require almost all workers to gain new skills. About ninety-four million employees may not need to change occupations altogether, but will need retraining, as technology already handles 20 percent of their current activities. While some workers in declining occupations might be able to find similar types of work, estimates indicate that some 21 million will need to change occupations by the end of this decade. Newly created jobs are going to require more sophisticated skills, which are already scarce today, and the potential social implications cannot be underestimated in scale.

Similar trends are becoming obvious in the United States, too. Having studied 702 occupational groupings, Oxford University researchers Carl Frey and Michael Osborne asserted already in 2013 that technology will inevitably transform many sectors of life: there is high probability, they estimated, that 47 percent of US workers will see their jobs automated within two decades. These fears have subsequently been echoed by similar studies inter alia from the European think tank Bruegel, the McKinsey Global Institute, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), showing automation affecting between 14 and 54 percent of jobs in the “near future.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 16, 2022 at 7:38am

#US Professor Calls #India "Sh*****E". "They're taught that they are better than everybody else because they are Brahmin elites and yet, on some level, their country is a sh*thole,” UPennProfessor Amy Wax said. #Caste #Brahmin #Xenophobia #Hindu via @ndtv

Leading Indian-Americans, including US Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, have slammed a law professor from University of Pennsylvania for her disparaging comments about the Asian American community, with a specific disdain for Indian-Americans.
In a recent interview to Fox News, Prof Amy Wax from the University of Pennsylvania alleged that “Blacks” and “non-Western” groups have “a tremendous amount of resentment and shame against western people for [their] outsized achievements and contributions.” “Here's the problem. They're taught that they are better than everybody else because they are Brahmin elites and yet, on some level, their country is a sh*thole,” Wax, who has a long history of inflammatory remarks, said.

She also said that the westerners have outgunned and outclassed the Asian Americans in every way.

“They've realised that we've outgunned and outclassed them in every way… They feel anger. They feel envy. They feel shame. It creates ingratitude of the most monstrous kind,” she said.

Wax then targeted the influential Indian-American doctors' community as well. “They are on the ramparts for the antiracism initiative for ‘dump on America,'” she alleged.

The comment was condemned by the Indian-Americans across the US.

“After President Trump left office, I thought the days of calling others “shithole” countries were over,” Krishnamoorthi said in a tweet.

“As an Indian-American immigrant, I'm disgusted to hear this UPenn Professor define Indian-American immigrants, and all non-white Americans, in such insulting terms,” he said.

Stating that such comments are borne of hatred and fear, he emphasised that such talks make it much harder to accomplish common-sense immigration reform.

“Comments like these are borne of hatred and fear, and they lead to real harm for my constituents and our minority communities. They fuel hate crimes against minorities, and they make it much harder to accomplish common-sense immigration reform,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Indian-American Law professor Neil Makhija also slammed Wax for her comments.

“It's irresponsible to use your position to lend credibility to these overtly racist sentiments that don't recognise Indian-Americans for who we are," he told Axios.

Indian-American Impact is slated to hold a summit next month in DC Makjiha told Axios he's planning to adjust programming to discuss the incident and create solutions against anti-Asian and South Asian hate in educational settings.

“The most unfortunate thing is that we have a lot of brilliant and incredible students at the law school,” he told NBC News.

“It makes you question whether she can fairly grade or educate,” he said.

This is not the first time Wax's controversial comments about race have gone viral, the US media reported.

Her appearance on Carlson's show is not the first time Wax has made anti-Asian remarks. In an interview in December, she said that Indians Americans should be more “grateful” to be in the US and that the country would be “better off with fewer Asians.” Penn has confirmed that the school is in the middle of disciplinary proceedings against Wax, NBC News reported.

“The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School has previously made clear that Professor Wax's views do not reflect our values or practices,” it quoted a representative as saying.

“In January 2022, Dean Ruger announced that he would move forward with a University Faculty Senate process to address Professor Wax's escalating conduct, and that process is underway,” the report quoted the Penn representative as saying.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 20, 2022 at 7:14am

Christopher Clary
Hmm. Wouldn't have guessed that rank ordering. "The Microsystems Technology Office’s core mission is to develop high-performance intelligent microsystems & next-generation components to ensure U.S. dominance in the areas of C4ISR, Electronic Warfare (EW), & Directed Energy (DE)."
Quote Tweet
Lee Hudson
· 17m
JUST IN: @DARPA Director Stefanie Tompkins outlines FY23 budget investment areas:
$896M microelectronics
$414M biotech
$412M AI
$184M cyber
$143M hypersonics
$90M quantum
$82M space

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 25, 2022 at 3:46pm

World military expenditure passes $2 trillion for first time

Total global military expenditure increased by 0.7 per cent in real terms in 2021, to reach $2113 billion. The five largest spenders in 2021 were the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom and Russia, together accounting for 62 per cent of expenditure, according to new data on global military spending published today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Military expenditure reaches record level in the second year of the pandemic
World military spending continued to grow in 2021, reaching an all-time high of $2.1 trillion. This was the seventh consecutive year that spending increased.

‘Even amid the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, world military spending hit record levels,’ said Dr Diego Lopes da Silva, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme. ‘There was a slowdown in the rate of real-terms growth due to inflation. In nominal terms, however, military spending grew by 6.1 per cent.’

As a result of a sharp economic recovery in 2021, the global military burden—world military expenditure as a share of world gross domestic product (GDP)—fell by 0.1 percentage points, from 2.3 per cent in 2020 to 2.2 per cent in 2021.

United States focuses on military research and development
US military spending amounted to $801 billion in 2021, a drop of 1.4 per cent from 2020. The US military burden decreased slightly from 3.7 per cent of GDP in 2020 to 3.5 per cent in 2021.

US funding for military research and development (R&D) rose by 24 per cent between 2012 and 2021, while arms procurement funding fell by 6.4 per cent over the same period. In 2021 spending on both decreased. However, the drop in R&D spending (–1.2 per cent) was smaller than that in arms procurement spending (–5.4 per cent).

‘The increase in R&D spending over the decade 2012–21 suggests that the United States is focusing more on next-generation technologies,’ said Alexandra Marksteiner, Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme. ‘The US Government has repeatedly stressed the need to preserve the US military’s technological edge over strategic competitors.’

Russia increases military budget in run-up to war
Russia increased its military expenditure by 2.9 per cent in 2021, to $65.9 billion, at a time when it was building up its forces along the Ukrainian border. This was the third consecutive year of growth and Russia’s military spending reached 4.1 per cent of GDP in 2021.

‘High oil and gas revenues helped Russia to boost its military spending in 2021. Russian military expenditure had been in decline between 2016 and 2019 as a result of low energy prices combined with sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014,’ said Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, Director of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.

The ‘national defence’ budget line, which accounts for around three-quarters of Russia’s total military spending and includes funding for operational costs as well as arms procurement, was revised upwards over the course of the year. The final figure was $48.4 billion, 14 per cent higher than had been budgeted at the end of 2020.

As it has strengthened its defences against Russia, Ukraine’s military spending has risen by 72 per cent since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Spending fell in 2021, to $5.9 billion, but still accounted for 3.2 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Continued increases by major spenders in Asia and Oceania
China, the world’s second largest spender, allocated an estimated $293 billion to its military in 2021, an increase of 4.7 per cent compared with 2020. China’s military spending has grown for 27 consecutive years. The 2021 Chinese budget was the first under the 14th Five-Year Plan, which runs until 2025.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 26, 2022 at 6:25pm

Scientists urge China to replace its faltering Covid vaccines | Financial Times

Scientists are urging China to look for alternatives to its two homegrown Covid-19 vaccines to tackle its Omicron outbreak, amid mounting concerns about the jabs’ efficacy against the variant. The country is struggling with two problems as it faces its worst Covid-19 surge since the start of the pandemic: the sluggish take-up of booster doses — authorities said this week that only 57 per cent of people over 60 have been fully vaccinated with three jabs — and homegrown vaccines that are much less effective than foreign-produced jabs. Studies have recommended that China’s Sinovac jab be boosted with a more effective shot, such as one of the mRNA vaccines produced by Germany’s BioNTech and Moderna of the US. With little data on China’s Sinopharm jab, many researchers believe it will also struggle against Omicron.

Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said the data was “limited” but the inactivated vaccines, which are made using a dead part of the virus, were less effective than their rivals and declined further with time. “The vaccines were at 60 per cent efficacy, it was never rosy, but Omicron really exposed the problem,” he said. China may have to overcome its reluctance to approve a foreign-made vaccine to tackle the latest outbreak, as well as rapidly rolling out boosters of its domestic shots. Otherwise, it will probably have to impose stricter — and costly — lockdowns to prevent a potentially huge death toll.

Sinovac matches Pfizer’s effectiveness only after three doses
Risk of mortality for people aged 60 and over relative to an unvaccinated peer by vaccination status (%)

A study from the University of Hong Kong published last month found that people over 60 who had received two doses of Sinovac’s vaccine CoronaVac were three times more likely to die from Covid compared with people who received two doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. The paper, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, concluded a third dose of either vaccine provided high levels of protection against severe disease. Sinovac did not respond to a request for comment.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 29, 2022 at 7:25am

Pakistan is among twe­nty trading partners which have been placed on the ‘watch list’ of the US government. These countries, however, merit bilateral attention to address und­erlying intellectual property problems.

The 2022 “Special 301” report of the US Trade Representative (USTR), which is the annual review of the global state of intellectual property protection and enforcement, reviewed more than 100 trade partners for the 2022 special report and also placed 27 of them on the ‘Priority Watch List’.


China, Russia, India, four others on US property rights 'Priority Watch List'

Twenty trading partners are on the Watch List, and merit bilateral attention to address underlying IP problems - Algeria, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 29, 2022 at 9:23am

#Russia Can’t Depend on #India Either. #NewDelhi may be frustratingly tolerant of #Putin, but it isn’t likely to help him substantively in #UkraineWar. #Modi @dhume via @WSJOpinion

Russian oil makes up a small fraction of Indian oil imports—only around 2% in 2021. Despite its recent purchases, India isn’t among the top 10 importers of Russian energy. As Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar pointed out last month, this is unlikely to change. Most of Indian energy comes from Gulf nations that are friendly to America. As of 2020, its top three oil suppliers were Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while its top gas suppliers were Qatar and the U.S. With access to reliable energy supplies from the Gulf, Indian refiners don’t need to turn to faraway Russia.


India’s reliance on Russian arms has been declining—down from 69% of Indian arms purchases in 2012-16 to 46% in 2017-21. Western sanctions on Russia could accelerate this decline by undermining Russia’s ability to maintain a sophisticated defense-industrial base. Russia’s battlefield losses may also force its arms producers to focus on replenishing its own stocks over expanding exports. And though Moscow has been a reliable strategic partner to New Delhi in the past, its growing closeness to Beijing makes it less dependable. Mr. Tellis predicts a continued “gentle decline” in Indian arms imports from Russia, at least compared with India’s imports from other nations such as the U.S., Israel and France.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 1, 2022 at 4:55pm

Chip consortium ISMC (joint venture between #AbuDhabi-based Next Orbit Ventures and #Israel's Tower Semiconductor) to set up $3 billion plant in India's Karnataka. It will be #India's first #Semiconductor #fabrication plant. #technology via @Yahoo

ISMC and Indian conglomerate Vedanta Ltd have applied for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's $10 billion incentive plan to push companies to set up semiconductor and display operations in India, the government's next big bet on electronics manufacturing.


BENGALURU (Reuters) - International semiconductor consortium ISMC will invest $3 billion in India's southern Karnataka state to set up a chip-making plant, the state government said on Sunday.

ISMC is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi-based Next Orbit Ventures and Israel's Tower Semiconductor. U.S. chip giant Intel Corp has announced plans to acquire Tower.

India’s first semiconductor fabrication unit is expected to generate more than 1,500 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs, the state's investment promotion division said in a tweet.

ISMC and Indian conglomerate Vedanta Ltd have applied for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's $10 billion incentive plan to push companies to set up semiconductor and display operations in India, the government's next big bet on electronics manufacturing.

Munsif Vengattil
Sun, May 1, 2022, 1:02 AM·1 min read

A silicone semiconductor is seen at the offices of Tower Semiconductor in northern Israel
By Munsif Vengattil

BENGALURU (Reuters) - International semiconductor consortium ISMC will invest $3 billion in India's southern Karnataka state to set up a chip-making plant, the state government said on Sunday.

ISMC is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi-based Next Orbit Ventures and Israel's Tower Semiconductor. U.S. chip giant Intel Corp has announced plans to acquire Tower.

India’s first semiconductor fabrication unit is expected to generate more than 1,500 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs, the state's investment promotion division said in a tweet.

ISMC and Indian conglomerate Vedanta Ltd have applied for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's $10 billion incentive plan to push companies to set up semiconductor and display operations in India, the government's next big bet on electronics manufacturing.


Vedanta told Reuters on Saturday it was in "advanced talks" with Gujarat and Maharashtra in west India and Telangana in the south to choose a site by mid-May. It has a planned investment outlay of $20 billion for its semiconductor and display push.

Modi and his IT ministers outlined plans on Friday for investment incentives in the sector, saying they want India to become a key player in a global chip market dominated by manufacturers in Taiwan and a few other countries.

India's semiconductor market is forecast to grow to $63 billion by 2026 from $15 billion in 2020, the government says.

(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil and Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and William Mallard)

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 1, 2022 at 8:23pm

Semiconductor Fabrication by country:

USA 44%

South Korea 24%

Japan 9%

EU 9%

Taiwan 6%

China 5%

In 2018, about 44 percent of U.S.-headquartered firms’ front-end semiconductor wafer capacity was located in the United States. Other
leading locations for U.S. headquartered front-end semiconductor wafer fab capacity were Singapore, Taiwan, Europe, and Japan.


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