Chairwoman Stefanik on China’s Pursuit of Emerging and Exponential Technologies

Jan 9, 2018
Opening Statement

WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's hearing titled “China’s Pursuit of Emerging and Exponential Technologies .” For testimony and to watch the hearing click here.  

"I would like to welcome everyone to our first Subcommittee event for 2018. Today we will examine China’s Pursuit of Emerging and Exponential Technologies and the resultant impact on U.S. national security. 
This is a critically important topic and will inform our future events, including the Science and Technology budget for the Department of Defense, and the continuation of the reform and Innovation efforts this committee has promoted over the past several years.  Our committee, and ETC in particular, has most recently reviewed in detail China’s advances in cyber capabilities and information warfare, and also monitored their development of advanced weapons systems such as hypersonics and directed energy. But this hearing will take a broader focus and touch on many of the newer technologies that China is investing in to support their national objectives.

China continues to increase their research and development investments at an alarming pace, and is rapidly closing many of their technology gaps. More and more, we see China using only domestic Chinese firms and creating high market-access barriers to support domestic capacity. The effect is to replace any and all dependency on foreign companies, investments, and technologies. Aside from the obvious economic benefit of China being able to create millions of high-paying, high-skill jobs – there are also obvious national security implications should they corner the market on advanced technologies critical to national security. We also see them aggressively moving to acquire enabling commodities such as data – and current trajectories have China on track to have roughly 30% of the world’s data by 2030.
Many of China’s published National-level plans, such as achieving dominance in Artificial Intelligence by 2030, indicate a top-down, government-driven agenda that provides a road-map for strategic collaboration between industry, academia, and their civil society. These plans, when combined with resourcing, effort, and patience, may propel China to leap ahead in many of the technology sectors we will talk about today. 

Most notably, China’s leadership appears to recognize the connection between the development of many of these advanced technologies and economic growth. This is something we should remind ourselves of as we continue to examine this important topic; perhaps it is a lesson we need to re-learn amidst our debates on Sequestration and Continuing Resolutions.

But China’s dominance in many of the technology sectors we will discuss today is not a forgone conclusion. What we learn today and in future hearings must be translated into action – to inform and reform the Department of Defense in support of national level efforts, so that the United States remains home to the world’s leading experts, researchers, and technological breakthroughs. 

Today’s hearing is also timely because of the organizational changes currently underway in the Pentagon, namely the re-establishment of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. 

I firmly believe that the Under Secretary for R&E needs to be the prime mover to drive change and foster innovation within the Department. A primary mission of this office should be to provide distinct direction and leadership to energize the Defense Industrial Base, the military services, the Department of Defense labs, and to guide even newer initiatives such as the Strategic Capabilities Office, the Defense Innovation Unit – Experimental (DIUx), the Defense Digital Service, and the Algorithmic Warfare Working Group.  And while many of these newer initiatives have created tremendous momentum and energized a conversation about changing 'the culture' of the Department of Defense, much more needs to be done to make these more than one-off quick gains.

If properly empowered and resourced, I also believe that the Under Secretary for R&E will be in a unique position to drive a national level dialogue for Science and Technology policy that will – in addition to helping maintain a battlefield advantage – energize our domestic Industrial Base and provide technology jobs and opportunities across many of the sectors we will talk about today. 

We have significant expectations of Dr. Mike Griffin – the nominee to be the Under Secretary for Research & Engineering – but we do so while also offering him our support and confidence – because the threats we face from China and others demand that we energize and organize our government to ensure that Policy keeps pace with Technology in order to define a National Science & Technology strategy, and to close the gap with China.
To guide us through this important topic of China’s pursuit of emerging and exponential technologies we have before us a panel of experts: 

• Mr. Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow with the Asia Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation.

• Mr. Paul Scharre, Director and Senior Fellow with the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security

And – 

• Mr. William Carter, Deputy Director and Fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  
Welcome to all three of our witnesses and we look forward to your testimony."  

115th Congress