The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) openly says it wants to establish dominance in emerging critical technologies as part of its strategy to supplant the United States as the world's dominant power, establish a new world order and replace the US-led international system established after WWII.
The US has only a little time left in this race. Reports indicate that deep cuts to the military made by several administrations have severely impaired its ability to catch up. Remaining talent and resources will possibly be reallocated in a new administration, if it is not too late by then. China has been supercharging its military for years while the U.S. has sat back, watched, and argued about unrelated social issues.
China also hopes to exploit the military potential of new technologies. Some, such as hypersonic advances, have the potential for developing sophisticated new weapons systems. Others, such as the science of "Big Data," can enhance military targeting while rapidly collecting, analyzing and storing immense amounts of information.
Robotics, another modern technology, has already been deployed by the US military against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide bombers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The anti-armor Javelin missile, originally a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, will eventually be fired from a 7-ton robot as it surveys targets beyond the forward edge of the battle area. The Javelin has proven successful in Ukraine as a check against Russia's advantage in armored weapon systems, particularly when Russian tanks travel in columns. In future wars, robots could guide unmanned jets as well as armored vehicles.
A "directed energy weapon" (DEW) can direct the flow of atomic particles. New advances in DEW technology include high-powered microwave weaponry and chemical laser systems.
Another promising military application is the science of quantum technology (physics/chemistry). A quantum, the smallest measurable unit of light (a photon) or electricity (an electron), can become the medium of an encrypted intelligence messaging sent, say, from a command headquarters to a military front.
Quantum communications, when encrypted (quantum encryption), are impervious to decryption. China dispatched the first quantum message , from Vienna Austria to Beijing, via satellite in 2017.
Chinese Communist Party leaders have maintained a keen interest in securing for China a lead in quantum disciplines. Chinese quantum expert Jian Wei-pan -- in large part responsible for the launch of the first quantum satellite in the summer of 2016 -- briefed CCP Politburo Members on the military advantages, should China secure a solid lead in this technology.
China is in an additional race with the US in the field of "advanced data analytics": the ability to sift through enormous amounts of information at great speeds, using artificial intelligence both to identify trends and predict events. This capability reportedly can improve the training of pilots, commercial or military.
China appears determined to master "big data analytics" by applying advanced computers to assist the People's Liberation Army in planning. Chinese President Xi Jinping, at the 19th Party Congress in 2017, personally endorsed the integration of "big data" into the Chinese economy. The CCP stated at the time:
"By 2030, our country will reach a world leading level in artificial intelligence theory, technology and application and become a principal world center for artificial intelligence innovation."
Intelligence collection tracking systems have been improved. For instance, new drone technology easily exposed a training exercise that featured U.S. Special Forces personnel attempting to infiltrate a hypothetical enemy area of operations.
The "Swarming Drone Pack" -- whereby one drone can transmit data simultaneously to the entire swarm -- can, in addition, both help or complicate US/NATO Special Forces operators' missions.
Advances in quantum sensing enable discernment of nuclear ordinance or radioactive materials embedded below the earth's surface -- such as in monitoring a nation's non-declared atomic storage, or attempts by adversaries to shield nuclear weapons programs.
The Free World's "tech war" against the CCP and the race to dominate artificial intelligence is also a contest in which the victor will dominate the global dissemination of information. The winner will establish future international rules and standards, especially for digital technologies. Xi threw down the gauntlet in a 2020 speech in which he announced the plan for establishment of a "Digital Silk Road" – asserting that control of information as a critical part of total control over a "new world order."
China has so far aggressively been leading in the extraction of rare earth materials necessary for vital weapons systems. China dominates the extraction of neodymium necessary for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and samarium needed for nuclear reactors.
Communist China is currently preparing its people for war. America is not. The American people, who take their magical lives -- when compared to so many people in the world -- for granted, may be in for a tormenting shock.
Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.