By Michael J. Morell, Frances Townsend, Joseph Dunford Jr.
Amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, the world has witnessed the unparalleled role that U.S. technology plays in advancing the democratic values of freedom, transparency and openness across the globe. The Ukrainian people are using American platforms and tools provided by our tech companies to combat Russian disinformation, broadcast wartime atrocities in real-time, and rally support the world over. Meanwhile, American technology companies are working with the U.S. government to detect, deter and blunt cyber attacks.
Indeed, America’s technological edge is one of our nation’s most important assets. Over the course of our 98 years of combined public service careers, we have seen firsthand the vital role domestic innovation plays not only in promoting economic prosperity, but also in strengthening our security at home, deterring threats from abroad, defending our allies, and solidifying America’s standing as the world’s superpower.
It is critical that we do not take for granted our technological edge, nor its role in supporting freedom and democracy.
But our adversaries — China, in particular — are determined to supplant the United States as the most powerful and prosperous nation in the world, and their leaders are clear-eyed about what it will take to achieve that goal. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that “technological innovation has become the main battleground of the global playing field, and competition for tech dominance will grow unprecedentedly fierce.”
This battleground is evolving rapidly. For example, after Russia asked China for military and economic aid for its war, the European Union warned that China may be providing Russia with microchips and other crucial technologies to sustain its military invasion of Ukraine and prop up its flailing economy. News outlets report that China’s tech giants are helping Russia bypass sanctions by stepping in to support Russia’s wireless and 5G efforts after Western companies left, and China is leveraging its digital and traditional media platforms to amplify Russian propaganda.
At the same time, we have seen China devise and implement several ambitious plans aimed at eroding America’s technological edge and undermining our standing as the world’s sole superpower.