President Reif: China's challenge is America's opportunity | MIT J-WEL

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President Reif: China's challenge is America's opportunity

Chinese high-speed train

Last week, MIT President L. Rafael Reif published an op-ed in The New York Times on the current trade tensions between China and the United States. 

He discusses some of the unfair trade practices China is accused of by the United States, including restricting access to its markets, giving tax breaks to domestic Chinese companies to boost its exports, and stealing intellectual property. President Reif argues that, though these practices need to be stymied to protect fair international competition, “it would be a mistake to think that an aggressive defense alone will somehow prevent China’s technological success—or ensure America’s own.”  

China is rapidly gaining on and competing at the global level in quantum computing, biotechnology, and in supporting start-ups. China is on the path toward becoming the most technologically advanced country on Earth in little over a decade if the United States does not invest more in long-term advanced technological research through its university system, as well as fostering collaborations across industry-university-government. 

"In short, stopping intellectual property theft and unfair trade practices — even if fully effective — would not allow the United States to relax back into a position of unquestioned innovation leadership. Unless America responds urgently and deliberately to the scale and intensity of this challenge, we should expect that, in fields from personal communications to business, health and security, China is likely to become the world’s most advanced technological nation and the source of the most cutting-edge technological products in not much more than a decade." -MIT President L. Rafael Reif

President Reif also argues that the United States should nurture home-grown talent, while also maintaining immigration policies that allow universities and industry to recruit top talent from anywhere in the world.  

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Photo: Chinese electric high-speed train (Courtesy of wodhks123. CC BY-SA 3.0)