Mark Warner (D-IL) is urging Washington to join forces in a tech alliance with like-minded nations to make rules on how technology should be manufactured globally. This is an effort to stop China from becoming the major leader in manufacturing of microchips, artificial intelligence, and other technology.
Currently, loose regulations on tech manufacturing allow factories in Beijing to manufacture tech products at an extremely low cost in comparison to other countries. The tech alliance would make it so that Beijing would be forced to cooperate with global rules or face alienation.
“This is the defining economic issue of our time,” he told the Digital Bridge. “There needs to be a sense of urgency. The European Union is a superpower. But if you have a coalition of the willing, that’s what’s needed to speed up the West’s response to China.”
Similarly, the European Union is looking to also build an alliance with the United States with the creation of a transatlantic council on digital trade issues. A main concern for the council is to limit the type of exports that countries can obtain from authoritarian countries like China.
“There is no Western company that can compete with the Chinese economic model,” he said. “In the 21st century, as competition revolves around technology, there will be tech-based alliances. Countries that come together around 5G may be different than those who come together on AI.”
Warner proposed legislation to create a division within the U.S. State Department to build democratic alliances around digital policymaking. Along with that, the U.S. would set aside $5 billion for joint tech research projects with other Western countries.
“If you push this too far down the agenda, it won’t get the attention is deserves,” he said. “If China sets the rules for AI, it undermines all our democracies.”
While the tech alliance would push back China’s efforts, it may face some pushback as the western countries who need to become allies will ultimately be eachother’s competitors in new technology.
Warren reiterated that the tech export battle is not against the people of China, but the Chinese government and those in power.