Friday, January 28, 2005

Technology and China

I don’t want to get involved in this issue, because there is a history here. The issue I’m talking about is American technology sales to China. Right now several GOP congressmen are trying to stop the sale of IBM’s personal computer division to a Chinese company, Lenovo Group. Their reason: America’s national security is at stake. They believe that withholding old computer technology will keep China weak.

This is an ignorant position to take. If they had visited the World Economic Forum here in Davos, they’d understand that China is more technologically advanced than a lot of American politicians seem to think.

They should understand that if China can’t get it’s technology from the US, they will get it from the Europeans or Japan. There is no worldwide embargo to keep China from attaining a higher level of technological advancement.

The Europeans have recently and against our wishes, they have lifted their arms trade ban pertaining to China. We, America and its companies must learn the lesson here. It would be much smarter for us to sell the Chinese our technology and use the money to invest in more advanced technology.

We can no longer expect to guard our national security by keeping China ignorant. We shouldn’t try it. What we should do is make sure we keep ahead of them and the rest of the world when it comes to technology. This means changing our school system, making it more science friendly. It means changing our tax practises when it comes to Research and Development.

China is turning out 75,000 highly skilled scientists every month. We need to change our attitude.

I remember we had the same situation a few years back, when the Hong Kong based Huchison-Whampoa company, owned by Li Ka-Shing tried to buy the bankrupt Global Crossing company. We stopped them. As a result, I heard later, China set up a whole new fiber optics division at one of their universities. Their technology is now comparable with ours. Let’s not make the same mistake again.