Amid US tech war, is China stuck in a middle-technology trap? Is it time to open its doors wider?

China’s manufacturing added value accounted for nearly 30 per cent globally, close to the combined total of the United States, Japan, Germany, South Korea and India, according to a report by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Photo: Xinhua Chinese Academy of Sciences says China faces a risk of being hamstrung at the low and mid-end of the global value chain China’s top leaders this week pledged to mobilise a variety of resources to break technological containment amid the ongoing tech war with the US China’s top science academy has warned of a potential “middle-technology trap”, with the leading analyst who published the concept calling for the country to “open its doors” to avoid becoming stuck at a key stage needed to fuel sustainable economic growth through innovation. The Chinese Academy of Sciences report in early December came at a delicate time when the United States has stepped up technology curbs, while Chinese manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to move up value chains. “The countries that develop later usually have difficulties in industrial upgrading and transitioning to high-income countries because they lack original technological advances after technology importation, imitation, absorption, and tracking,” the report said. The “middle-technology trap” describes a scenario in which developing countries benefit from industrial transfers due to their low-cost advantages, but face long-term economic stagnation when the advantages diminish, and local firms struggle to catch up with the core technologies retained by developed nations. Central economic work conference statement The idea was first brought forward by Zheng Yongnian, a prominent political scientist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and his research team in March, but it has now become a concern for Beijing following a recent tone-setting meeting. In its statement following the central economic work conference this week, China’s top leaders pledged […]

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