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Geo-Economics, Innovation, and National Security

The features of twenty-first century strategic competition are quite different from previous eras of great power rivalry but the potential effects on international peace, stability, and prosperity are still significant.

The players―the United States, China, and Russia, and to a lesser extent other emerging power centers―find themselves contending across multiple domains, including the economic, business, financial, technological, geostrategic, military, governance, and political spheres.

Key factors influencing these dynamics include:

  • Blurred domains: Many areas of competition now take place across domains, the boundaries of which have become increasingly indistinct and porous. The most obvious are the military-civilian divide, the role of the state versus private actors in foreign investment, and gray-zone confrontations below the threshold of war. More broadly, however, the problem can be seen in the ways that economic competition affects defense capabilities.
  • Economic interdependence: The economies of the great powers have become increasingly enmeshed, especially those of the United States and China. Although this may mitigate some types of risk, interdependence may provide benefits to strategic rivals, and it makes the costs of the breakdown of cooperation higher.
  • The primacy of geo-economics: Geo-economics is arguably the primary arena of great power competition in this new era, especially between the United States and China. One of the central areas of competition is the battle for global technological and manufacturing supremacy between these two countries.

To shed light on these dynamics, IGCC and its partners at the School of Global Policy and Strategy are undertaking an ambitious program of research that covers all aspects of geo-economics, innovation, and national security (GINS). Topics include:

  1. Chinese industrial policy
  2. Patterns of global trade and their strategic implications
  3. China’s military-civil fusion development model
  4. Long-term trends in the China-Russia defense and strategic technological relationship
  5. The evolution of China’s defense research, development, and acquisition system
  6. Development trends in defense and strategic industrial bases
  7. China’s pivot to an innovation-driven development strategy under Xi Jinping
  8. China’s science and technology mega-projects
  9. How access to financing and capital markets is affecting China’s state sector defense science, technology, and innovation development

Since China is the main challenger to US global economic, technological, and military leadership, the majority of the projects have a China focus. The rivalry between the United States and Russia is more geostrategic in nature, such as the contest for influence and control of countries bordering Russia, but there is also technological competition in the defense and nuclear spheres.