China Executive Brief | China's Tech Ambition and the Hydrogen Bet
China Executive Brief
Always inclined to technocracy, Beijing is now gripped by the prospect of tech serving national security and power aspirations. ‘Indigenous’ breakthroughs on the level of paradigm shifts are seen as essential to growth and security. To protect the manufacturing base against external shocks, innovation will now go beyond burnishing the global competitiveness of PRC firms. Nothing illustrates this better than the human and financial resources amassed to develop hydrogen, an emerging green tech star.
Key takeaways for Australian leaders:
- Beijing sees science and technology as the key enabler in its pursuit of great power status.
- Technology breakthroughs are viewed as go-to economic and national security policy tools, that at the same time manage domestic political and social risks.
- Hydrogen is the solution du jour positioning China as a global leader in industries of the future, providing a pathway to carbon neutrality, while reducing pollution and oil imports, and ramping up domestic consumption.
- Australia and China seem destined to be rivals in Asian and global hydrogen markets. However, China’s current focus is largely domestic, while Australia’s long-term play is to service energy-hungry Asian economies (for example, the Republic of Korea).
- Hoping to take the global lead in hydrogen research and development (R&D), China is investing heavily in domestic research capability, industry-academia collaboration and indigenous innovation.
- Hydrogen technology R&D are a beckoning doorway for China-Australia collaboration.
- But any collaboration in this field is problematic absent resolutions to the likely long-term, structural breakdown in their relations.
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China Executive Briefing is an initiative of Asia Society Australia and China Policy to provide up-to-date, impartial and accessible analysis of China’s economic policies and trends and their implications for Australia.