Even by the standards of emerging technologies, biotechnology has the potential to utterly transform geopolitics, economics, and society in the 21st century. Yet while the United States has long been the world leader in most segments of the global biotechnology sector, China is fast becoming a significant player. This brief assesses the implications of China’s changing role in biotechnology for the United States, which span national security, data security, and economic competitiveness.
On current trends the United States is likely to remain the world leader in most biotechnology areas. However, the gap between China and the U.S. is narrowing in the biotechnology sector, and U.S. policymakers must boost public investment, liberalize immigration and foreign student visa policies, and enact regulatory reforms to ensure America remains competitive. At the same time, areas like vaccine development and regulation of emerging technologies like synthetic biology present rich opportunities for Sino-U.S. cooperation.