Trump called decoupling “an interesting word,” and implied he would pursue it in a second term: “Under my administration, we will make America into the manufacturing superpower of the world and we’ll end our reliance on China, once and for all, whether it’s decoupling or putting in massive tariffs.”
China certainly has made big advances in technology and military weapons over the past decade. But some leading experts say the claim that China is ahead on key technologies, such as artificial intelligence, is flat wrong. And they warn that policies that seek a radical break between the U.S. and Chinese economies, as Trump implies, could backfire.
“China is closing the gap in technology, but the U.S. can widen its lead if it adopts the right policies,” argues Jason Matheny, a former director of IARPA, the intelligence community’s in-house think tank. Matheny is a professor at Georgetown University and contributed to a recent review of technology issues for the Working Group on Science and Technology in U.S.-China Relations, sponsored by the University of California at San Diego and the Asia Society.