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China’s Challenge Is America’s Opportunity

The United States needs to change its focus from merely reacting to China's actions to "building a farsighted national strategy for sustaining American leadership in science and innovation, writes L. Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in this opinion piece published by The New York Times.

"China is not an innovation also-ran that prospers mainly by copying other people’s ideas and producing them quickly at low cost," Reif writes. "The country is advancing aggressively to assert technological supremacy in critical fields of science and technology." These fields include quantum computing, mobile payment and facial and spoken language recognition, and transportation.

Unless the United States responds to this challenge from China, "We should expect that, in fields from personal communications to business, health and security, China is likely to become the world’s most advanced technological nation and the source of the most cutting-edge technological products in not much more than a decade," Reif warns.

China's technological dominance is not inevitable, Reif writes, because the United States has tremendous assets including "the large number of first-rate American universities pursuing advanced research with long-term federal support."

"If all we do in response to China’s ambition is to try to double-lock all our doors, I believe we will lock ourselves into mediocrity," Reif writes. "But if we in the United States respect China as a rising competitor with many strengths we can learn from, that view will inspire America to be its incomparable best."

Read the full article.