Strengthen Basic Research Imperative For Self Reliance In Sci & Tech

Von der Leyen said that EU does not want to “cut economic, societal, political, and scientific ties” with China but must act quickly to rebalance its relationship with communist regime.

Strengthen Basic Research Imperative For Self Reliance In Sci & Tech

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission, told MEPs today that while the EU shouldn’t sever its scientific ties with China, it must take precautions to prevent the leakage of sensitive technologies to the Chinese military.

Von der Leyen said that the EU does not want to “cut economic, societal, political, and scientific ties” with China but must act quickly to rebalance its relationship with the communist regime.

This was her first opportunity to speak about the matter since her trip to China earlier this month with French President Emanuel Macron. There is undoubtedly a need for Europe to work on reducing the risk associated with some crucial and delicate aspects of our relationship, she said.

To defend themselves against Chinese attempts to steal technologies for both military and civilian applications, EU businesses need new weapons. In order to prevent the leakage of sensitive and emerging technologies through investments in other nations, von der Leyen said that “we have to look at where there are gaps in our toolbox.”

In support of this, the Commission will release guidelines and policies aimed at assisting EU companies in protecting their technologies and ensuring EU resources and expertise are not utilised for China’s military. These will be components of a new economic security strategy that the Commission intends to introduce in the upcoming months.

According to von der Leyen, “We need to make sure that our companies’ capital, expertise, and knowledge are not used to strengthen the military and intelligence capabilities of those who are also our systemic rivals.”

She also acknowledged that when it comes to cutting-edge technologies like biotechnology, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence, Europe is already becoming more dependent on China. “What we want is for China to respect transparency about subsidies, intellectual property, and a level playing field when it comes to access for our companies to the Chinese market,” said von der Leyen.

China has made enormous strides since opening up its economy to the rest of the world, in part due to a conscious effort to depart from the centrally planned economy that was the hallmark of communism. China has developed into an economic powerhouse and a pioneer in many cutting-edge technology sectors by granting businesses more freedom.

With President Xi Jinping redesigning the communist regime to challenge the US’s technological and military superiority on the global stage, that era is now coming to an end, and China is entering a new era of security and control.

Many EU companies doing business in China, according to Von der Leyen, are already observing this shift “towards security and away from the logic of open markets and free trade.”

In 2021, the Commission put forth a fresh, global strategy for international research and innovation collaboration in response to geopolitical changes.

Additionally, it released a checklist for institutions to use when deciding whether or not to collaborate with Chinese partners and published guidelines on outside interference in EU research.

The communist government is occasionally a helpful partner for the Commission, but it is also a systemic foe. The EU continues to accept Chinese students and provides funding for collaborative research projects, but there are growing worries that the communist party is snooping on sensitive technologies using its scientific diaspora.

The Commission’s guiding documents, however, do not entirely clear up the increasingly murky waters of science and technology relations with China.

The US National Science Foundation has confirmed plans to set up special funding to study the scale and scope of lab leaks from its scientific institutions to China. Jean-Eric Paquet, the Commission’s former director general for research and innovation, said the EU should be more forceful in demanding respect for values, reciprocity, and intellectual property. China is not giving any positive signals that it is willing to accept the new rules.