Over the past decade, the Asia-Pacific region has risen in strategic importance to the United States in terms of economic and national security. Now it is the world’s economic engine, high-tech production capacity and a thriving source of cutting-edge technology. It is home to the world’s fastest-growing markets, fueled by a thriving middle class, and is expected to drive the dynamics of the global economy in the 21st century.
The region is also the launching pad for China’s quest for global leadership. Locked in strategic competition with the United States, China knows that its power to influence the international economy, trade and security is based on its technological strength. Scientific and technological innovation is the main battleground of the international strategy game, as Chinese President Xi Jinping said, in order for China to conquer the commanding heights of technology. His government has used the promise of technology cooperation as an incentive for emerging and developing countries to engage in alliances with China, expanding its ability to shape the rules for the next global economy.
We need a vision and a framework to build such alliances between democratic, like-minded and strategically positioned Asia-Pacific countries that can balance China’s ambitions. Such alliances can play a key role in developing solutions to the national, regional and global problems we face, such as cybersecurity, sustainable production and consumption, and the ethical use of technology. The alliance between the United States and Japan has been a stable cornerstone of the Asia-Pacific region for the past half century, during a period of great change. Japan continues to position itself as a major partner for balancing technological power in the region.
At a time when the United States is so deeply intertwined with the Asia-Pacific region, our economic stability and national security are at stake. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States struggled to provide critical medical devices such as personal protective equipment or PPE from Asian manufacturers. We are also dependent on China for critical and rare earth materials used in many high-tech products. In addition, we rely on countries such as Taiwan and South Korea to manufacture and package many of the semiconductors we use in military systems and in the digital devices we use in our daily lives. These interdependencies – and vulnerabilities – have provoked reactions, such as the CHIPS Act for America. This legislation allows a $ 500 million fund to support the semiconductor supply chain, as well as the development and implementation of semiconductor manufacturing in the state.
This is where upgrading our diplomatic relations in the region will also strengthen our position, both in the region and globally. In April 2021, President Joe Biden and then-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga built a new Competitiveness and Sustainability Partnership (CoRe) to increase collaboration in research and technological development in areas such as biotechnology, AI and quantum technology. The partnership also focuses on secure information and communication technologies, including next-generation mobile networks, sustainable agriculture and energy. Finally, CoRe will also support critical supply chains, including those for semiconductors.
Like American manufacturers, which benefited immensely from the adoption of Japanese quality practices and methods in the 1980s, the United States also has much to gain from and share in this new CoRe partnership. For example, both nations are prone to natural disasters – tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis, as well as forest fires and earthquakes – and have developed strategies for prevention, mitigation and recovery. In addition, only a few countries in the world are at the forefront of a range of advanced innovations, ranging from high-performance computing to nuclear technology, a promising way to reduce carbon emissions.
The partnership between the government can also have a greater impact if it is supported by the private sector of both countries. Not only does the private sector in both countries own and maintain most of the infrastructure, but it also has the technology development skills and commercialization and deployment capabilities needed to realize the CoRe vision. The Competitiveness Council – with membership at the level of CEO of the US Industry, Academic, Labor and National Laboratories – and the Japan Innovation Network (JIN) – whose mission is to support the cultivation of innovation in Japanese business and industry – signed a Memorandum of Understanding. month to launch a new initiative called the US-Japan Innovation and Competitiveness Commission. The Commission will identify projects and initiatives in areas of common interest, including promoting joint research between US and Japanese critical technology institutions and laboratories, technical visits between US and Japanese companies and research institutions, and providing recommendations to both governments to contribute. to improve public policies for innovation and sustainability. This effort will provide a platform to engage the private sector in advancing our binational goals, creating opportunities to support CoRe and usher in this new era of technology governance.
Our strategic goal is for this partnership to serve as a model for a more proactive, strategic, and innovative approach to the United States in the region. This framework for bringing together the public and private sectors and building alliances that improve the economic and national security of such countries will help develop and implement innovations to address a number of major global challenges – and will keep those who hope to threaten the global order and stability, aside. .