Working Paper

Working Paper

[EAI Working Paper] US-China Technology Rivalry and Implication for US-Korean Technology Cooperation

  • 2020-12-07
  • YoungJa Bae

ISBN  979-11-6617-068-3 95340

Editor's Note

On November 13, 2020, the EAI and Brookings institution jointly held the 2nd online seminar of the <After Trump> series titled "Prospects for U.S.-South Korea Cooperation in an Era of U.S.-China Strategic Competition". In session 2: economy, energy, and environment, YoungJa Bae addressed that it would be desirable to restrict technology that has obvious national security implications. The problem lies in the fact that since many technologies are of civilian nature, specifying what technologies and products hold such threats and those that should be regulated under the national security perspective is vague. The relationship between national security and trade investment needs to be discussed in a multilateral framework. This is also where the leadership role of the United States is important as it needs to help form multilateral norms regarding trade, investment and national security.



Quotes from the Paper


US-China Technology Rivalry

Amid the recent trade conflict between the US and China in the Trump administration, high-tech such as semiconductors, 5G, and AI have been at the center. China has been challenging the US's advantage in the high-tech sector, and the US has tried to deter it in various ways of trade sanctions, export controls, investment regulations, restrictions on the exchange of researchers, and intellectual property lawsuits. Semiconductor, 5G, and AI are known to be the main tools driving a new economic paradigm related to the fourth industrial revolution, and these technologies are expected to be the keys for economic competitiveness in the 21st century. In addition, these technologies are typical dual-use technologies that can determine the performance of various advanced weapons.


Implication for US-Korea Technology Cooperation

The US-China technology rivalry and the decoupling of the US-China in the global ICT supply chain have been causing great challenges to many countries, including Korea, which have gotten entangled within complex and mutually interdependent global economic network. In this highly integrated global economy, a country would have difficulty in restricting economic and technological relationships on the national security grounds. While many countries share some of the US’s concerns regarding China, most of them also want to maintain proper relations with China as well as the US and avoid having to choose one of them. In the Biden administration, the pressures against China are expected to continue, maybe, in a somewhat relaxed form, and the formation of a technology alliance in line with the grand multilateral strategy against China could be discussed in detail.



Author’s Biography

YoungJa Bae is a Professor of the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Konkuk University. Dr. Bae received her PhD in political science at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States and serves on the policy advisory committee to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and vice chairman of the Korean Association of International Studies. She was a visiting scholar at National Taiwan University under Taiwan Fellowship. Her main research interests include international politics and S&T, science diplomacy, and international political economy. Her major papers include "Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment and National Security," "US-China competition and Science and Technology Innovation" and "S&T Diplomacy as Public Diplomacy: Theoretical Understanding".