Experts: The renewal of the science and technology pact between the US and China will bring mutual trust – World

Experts: The renewal of the science and technology pact between the US and China will bring mutual trust – World

If the US-China science and technology pact is not renewed, the mutual trust that underpins and underpins bilateral cooperation will suffer, experts said.

“I think the scientific community in both countries wants this agreement,” said Dennis Simon, a distinguished fellow at the Washington-based Institute for China-American Studies (ICAS), on February 20 during a panel discussion titled “Renewing the US-China Science Agreement and technologies. Can Science and Technology Cooperation Co-Exist with Technology Unbundling?” hosted by ICAS.

“I think they want it for its symbolic purposes, and they also want it for that blessing. It donates to give people confidence in cooperation,” said Simon. “And I think the cooperative relationship will suffer if we don’t have that, because it will be seen as a clear act of lack of approval on both sides.” And that would not be good for the future of cooperation.”

The Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement (STCA or STA) was originally signed in 1979 by then US President Jimmy Carter and then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. It is a framework for governmental science and technology cooperation between the two countries, under which the US and China cooperate in areas including agriculture, energy, space, health, environment, earth sciences and engineering, as well as education and science exchange.

The STCA has been on a five-year renewal cycle since its inception and received its most recent five-year extension in 2018. It received an additional six-month term last August as officials from both nations engaged in talks to amend and strengthen its provisions.

After that six-month extension, the STCA was supposed to be renewed or extended until February 27, but it wasn’t. The U.S. State Department said it is negotiating to “amend, expand, and strengthen protections under” the agreement, but “is unable to provide information at this time on specific U.S. negotiating positions or whether the agreement will be extended beyond your current expiration date.”

“Despite the lack of an update now, I’m not pessimistic on that front. The relationship is in a better state and therefore there may not be an urgent need to officially announce the renewal. The decision on this front was almost certainly communicated privately to the Chinese side. Also, if the agreement was cancelled, it would have been publicly announced,” Sourabh Gupta, head of ICAS’ Trade and Technology Programme, told China Daily.

Gupta said his prediction was that the agreement was temporarily renewed again for a quiet six-month period while negotiations to update the agreement continued. “And this may not be the last six-month extension,” he said.

“All I can say is that I hope we can reach an agreement,” Caroline Wagner, a professor at Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs, said during the ICAS panel discussion.

“I know there are different views in the United States. Congress actively expressed concerns. I think we can address these concerns. I believe the relationship is important and it is important to both countries at this time,” she said. “So the more we can get an agreement that allows people to continue working together. I think the better. Science is innovation and international relations.”

Wagner said the US-China science and technology relationship began because of a political-diplomatic agreement, the STCA. “Since this agreement was signed, I think we’ve seen the emergence of a huge number of people working together.

“There are significant connections between American scientists and their Chinese counterparts. And a lot of times scientists are thought to be in the ‘Republic of Science,’ that they’re interested in creating knowledge and expanding the frontiers of knowledge, and don’t pay so much attention to this kind of political wind that’s blowing one way or the other.” Wagner said. However, she still stressed the importance of STCA because researchers “have to rely on funding”. “And the funding has some political connections.”

“But my sense is that much of the relationship will continue without too much recourse to politics,” Wagner added.

Simon said the six-month extension from last August was for both sides to hold discussions and negotiations. “So they could introduce a bunch of new factors that need to be taken into account if there was to be any meaningful future science and technology collaboration.”

A major update to the STCA in November 2009 led to increased scientific and technological activity between the US and China. The US and China signed new STCA agreements for joint projects in electric vehicles (EV), renewable energy and the establishment of the US-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC), a 10-year research effort between the US Department of Energy and China Ministry of Science and Technology.

Simon said at CERC, the two sides negotiated an additional agreement focused on who would own intellectual property from the joint research, including “what is the disposition of it and who can claim, quote, unquote, ownership of it.”

“By working this all out in advance, they saved themselves a lot of worry and anxiety that somehow someone was going to take advantage of the other side,” Simon said. “WW needs to basically lay out on the table to each other what the main concerns are. And now a new agreement will reflect where we are in 2024 much better than where we were way back in 1979.”

Simon said issues for negotiation could include personal safety and security, data, topics of reciprocity, transparency, equal access, intellectual property rights (IPR), good faith discussions and dispute resolution. He also said that dramatic changes in China’s scientific and technological capacity, as well as the involvement of domestic domestic consultations, were the two key factors that made the negotiations complicated.

Simon spoke highly of the various measures China has taken in recent years to streamline its research system and increase its investment in research. He also made suggestions for China to overcome or move faster on “bottlenecks” such as the geographical distribution of talent, the abolition of the seniority system and the international engagement of talent to move the system to a higher level.

“There is some opposition to the new science and technology agreement, particularly from some segments of the US Congress,” Simon said. “But I think the fact remains that both sides, both governments, at least appeared to have entered the negotiations in good faith, with the hope that some new agreement could be reached.”

“What no agreement means is that science and technology cooperation does not have the blessing of Beijing and Washington in some formalistic way. I think the blessing of both governments is very important to inspire confidence,” he concluded.

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