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Guest opinion: US must maintain tech superiority, independence

By Ryan Easton - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Mar 18, 2023

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Ryan Easton

Utah’s Silicon Slopes have triggered an avalanche of advanced innovation, leading the Beehive State to be ranked as the top state for startups.

With Utah at the forefront of innovation in the United States in recent years, developments and ideas from our state have helped our country remain the leading voice on the world stage. This position helps ensure that America can share its values with the world and encourage the spread of democratic values.

This is becoming more and more critical as we see countries like China and Russia doubling down on spreading their autocratic vision across the world. In the face of communism coming from China and Russia’s invasion of a sovereign nation, our adversaries are on the move and working to influence other countries.

One major way they are doing this is through the export of technology. China has been working diligently to become the world’s leader in major tech like artificial intelligence and other emerging capabilities. They have made significant investments in research and development and have even stolen technology and intellectual property from the United States to achieve these goals. Chinese President Xi Jinping said that by 2035 China “should rank among the leading countries in the world with respect to our strategic and technological strength and our army of high-quality talent.”

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) aggressive pursuit of these technologies should concern all Americans because it impacts our national security. If one of our adversaries is producing the best tech in the world, where does that leave us? Dependent on Chinese tech? The government in China dictates the rules of the road for their companies and keeps those companies close. We don’t want to have to use Chinese tech for things that could be needed to run our critical infrastructure or that could be needed by our military.

In addition to creating national security and economic challenges, China’s dominance in the tech industry gives them a significant advantage in cyber warfare and intelligence gathering. This could lead to compromised national security and potentially losing our technological edge.

Having served our country in the military, I deeply understand the importance of promoting American values and what that takes. In today’s digitally focused world, we must now do that by ensuring we lead in the research and development of state-of-the-art tech while also ensuring we can be independent of China’s tech. America must be able to innovate here and rely on our own homegrown technology, which we know is built with our ideals in mind. On the other hand, China’s tech is built with the CCP’s values in mind. Those values include things like surveillance and suppression of expression and political and other speech.

This situation is a reminder that China is and will continue to be aggressive, and if we do not act, America could end up in a vulnerable spot. Our leaders in Congress are already laser-focused on China and I appreciate the concern that has already been raised by key committees including the new China committee in the House of Representatives.

But we cannot just talk; we must act to ensure that technological innovation in the United States continues to lead the world. That means passing legislation supporting our small businesses, entrepreneurs, innovation and ability to compete while avoiding bad policies that would undermine America’s — and Utah’s — ability to innovate.

Ryan Easton is a Marine veteran from West Jordan.


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