Speakers: Bendett, S. (CNA); Kania, E. (Center for a New American Security (CNAS))
Date: 15 November 2019
SMA hosted a speaker session presented by Ms. Elsa Kania (Center for a New American Security (CNAS)) and Mr. Samuel Bendett (CNA) as a part of its Future of Global Competition & Conflict Speaker Series. Mr. Bendett began by stating that China and Russia have not only expanded their military cooperation, but they are also undertaking more extensive technological cooperation in 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, biotechnology, new media, and the digital economy. He then explained the genesis of this new high-tech partnership. Mr. Bendett stated that as NATO and other western nations distanced themselves from Russia, Russia began looking towards China as a potential partner. Moreover, China appeared to be a logical choice from Russia’s perspective due to its emergence as a key player in the global technological realm and as a focal point for the economic flow of high-tech products. Russia also hoped that it could capitalize on China’s ability to effectively commercialize intellectual products (IP). He then stated that China also benefits greatly from this high-tech partnership. For instance, China recognized that Russian scientific education is among the best in the world; therefore, China began funneling capital into Russian consortiums and universities in return for access to Russia’s highly-skilled scientists and engineers. Ms. Kania proceeded to state that it is evident that China and Russia are seeing interesting convergences in their strengths and weaknesses and that innovation has become one of the key elements in the expansion and strengthening of this relationship. However, from an outsider perspective, it is often difficult to discern which facets of this partnership are real and which are a façade. Moreover, the durability of this relationship is unclear, as this high-tech relationship is still fairly new. Ms. Kania, however, stated that it is likely that Russia and China’s military and high-tech relationships will continue to grow and evolve in the future, which will pose challenges to the US in the scope of great power competition. To conclude, Ms. Kania advised that US decision makers consider 1) greater monitoring and understanding of these nations’ activities in order to avoid being blindsided, 2) identifying and monitoring the ways in which China and Russia could utilize their academic partnerships, 3) working towards gaining a greater situational awareness among allies and partners, and 4) understanding potential targeting of our technologies.
To access an audio recording of the session, please email Ms. Nicole Peterson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Their report can be found at https://www.aspi.org.au/report/new-sino-russian-high-tech-partnership