By: Sarah Kirchberger and Clementine Starling

What is the kernel of the issue?

Technology transfers to China, even legal ones, have been identified as being used to support China’s military build-up and its growing mass surveillance state. Such technology transfers harm US and allied security and detract from efforts to promote human rights in China.  

Why is the issue important?

Many emerging technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and space technologies are inherently dual-use—products with civilian and security applications—making the control of exports of these technologies difficult to enforce and track. This has resulted in US and allied technology making its way into Chinese surveillance infrastructure and military applications, although those technologies may have initially been legally traded for purely civilian purposes.  

What is the recommendation?

The Biden administration should work with like-minded allies to conduct a comprehensive review of dual-use technologies traded with China and their application once arriving in China. After this review, common export controls on these technologies should be developed and enforced.  

Related Experts: Clementine G. Starling and Sarah Kirchberger