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Trade and technology

A new fishing pond: China’s hunt for technology research in Central and Eastern Europe

Published 14 September 2022

China is set to become a technological superpower by the middle of the 21st century, but it remains a latecomer to the technology race dominated by the most advanced countries. China's quest to seek cutting-edge technologies abroad, including from Central and Eastern Europe, represents a significant economic security as well as an ethical challenge.

Given China's economic transition and the trajectory of its relations with the United States, China will continue to invest strategically in the development of its science and research. Because it cannot yet domestically produce all critical technologies it needs, China will persistently seek access to such technologies abroad. The European Union and its members have responded to this situation by introducing risk mitigation measures, including updated export controls and tightened investment screening mechanisms. But the countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), lacking awareness of Chinese scientific priorities and downplaying Beijing’s interest in appropriating foreign technology, represent a greater vulnerability.

In this study, Ivana Karásková at the Prague-based Association for International Affairs explores how, as the more technologically advanced countries move towards better protecting their knowledge sector, the CEE region might become an even more attractive target for China’s research acquisitions. Countries in the region must be compelled to balance opportunities of scientific cooperation with China with a thorough and sober assessment of the potential risks.

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Ivana Karásková is a China analyst at the Association for International Affairs (AMO), a Prague-based think tank and nongovernmental organization, and a lead of international projects MapInfluenCE and China Observers in Central and Eastern Europe (CHOICE). Since 2020, she has been a European China Policy fellow at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), Germany.

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