December 07, 2021

CNAS Launches New Set of Research Projects on U.S. and Allied Economic and Technological Competition with China

Washington, December 7, 2021—The Center for a New American Security is pleased to announce the launch of three new U.S.-government supported research projects on U.S. and allied economic and technological competition with China. The projects will produce research and policy recommendations for Developing a National Industrial Policy Strategy, Crafting Transatlantic Responses to the Future of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and Developing a Transatlantic Technology Strategy.

Together, these projects mark the next chapter in the Center’s ongoing cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research on American economic and technological competitiveness and competition with China.

The projects—which will draw on collaboration between CNAS’ Energy, Economics, and Security, Technology and National Security, Indo-Pacific Security, and Transatlantic Security programs—include:

Developing a National Industrial Policy Strategy

The United States has a strategic interest in a strong industrial base to ensure military readiness and emergency preparedness, maintain U.S. innovation and competitive advantages, and promote broad-based domestic prosperity. While the United States has implemented industrial policy piecemeal, it lacks a clear vision for a long-term, comprehensive industrial policy that goes beyond remedying vulnerabilities revealed by recent crises. At the same time, the industrial policies of some nations—that of friends and foes alike—create competitive advantages for those nations’ national champions and key sectors. This project will develop a detailed blueprint for an industrial policy strategy to meet the China challenge and to promote American resilience and competitiveness.

Crafting Transatlantic Responses to the Future of China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Since the launch in 2013 of China’s global infrastructure development project—the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—139 countries have signed on. Despite its ambitious promises, BRI projects have slowed in recent years and come with drawbacks, such as creating huge debt burdens for recipient nations, leaving the future of the massive project unclear. While the U.S. government has promised to enhance efforts to compete with China’s initiative, there remains a lack of concrete ideas for how the United States and Europe can work together to counter BRI within and beyond Europe’s borders.

This project will examine the future trajectory of the BRI both within Europe and in other key recipient nations, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, and develop fresh recommendations for the United States and Europe to both counter BRI in Europe and beyond and mitigate negative implications of BRI. This project will deliver concrete recommendations for how U.S. and European policymakers can mitigate risks and provide alternatives to BRI in Europe and other key recipient nations.

Developing a Transatlantic Technology Strategy

Maintaining the United States’ and Europe’s technological leadership is key to safeguarding our national security, economic advantages, and ways of life. To remain competitive, the United States and Europe must harness the strengths of their alliance and implement a joint technology strategy.

To develop a joint strategy, CNAS will take a three-part approach. CNAS will recommend ways to address persistent issues in technology policy between the United States and Europe. It will advance an affirmative agenda and identify the technology areas where transatlantic cooperation is necessary to ensure continued global leadership; and it will identify opportunities for innovation on key technologies and set the rules of the road for the future use of technologies. This project will also develop recommendations for defensive policy actions, focusing on investment screening and export controls, that can protect identified technologies of core economic and national security importance to both partners.

"These three new projects help to bolster the U.S. and allied approach to a comprehensive competition with China along military, economic, political, and technological dimensions," said Paul Scharre, CNAS Director of Studies. "America’s alliances are a unique competitive advantage that China cannot match, and we will be stronger when we work together.."

“With these initiatives, CNAS continues its commitment to producing research to help the U.S. maintain a global competitive edge," added CNAS CEO Richard Fontaine. "These projects will draw across the Center's expertise and provide critical insights for future national security policy."

The newly announced projects are partially supported by funding from the U.S. Air Force Office of Commercial and Economic Analysis.

The Center for a New American Security performs groundbreaking research and analysis to shape and elevate the national security and foreign policy debate in Washington and beyond. CNAS is leading the way on crafting new approaches to the challenges posed by China’s rise, including its cornerstone report Rising to the China Challenge, its U.S. National Technology Strategy project, and its Dangerous Synergies: Countering Chinese and Russian Digital Influence Operations report, among others.

For more information or to schedule an interview with the respective project leads, please contact Sydney Simon at ssimon@cnas.org or call 202-695-8166.