University of Cambridge > > POLIS Department Research Seminars > Autocrats at the Cutting Edge: China, Innovation, and the Global Balance of Power

Autocrats at the Cutting Edge: China, Innovation, and the Global Balance of Power

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Ayse Zarakol.

Many skeptics – often invoking arguments about liberal institutions and innovation – argue that China’s ability to compete against the United States in great-power competition will be hindered by an inability to innovate. In this paper, relying on innovation metrics, Lind argues that (1) China is defying pessimistic expectations by emerging as a global technological leader. China has already caught up to (and in some cases overtaken) other cutting-edge economies such as France, Germany, Israel, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, China and the United States are the two global leaders in the emerging technologies of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Second, Lind argues that (2) institutions arguments neglect significant heterogeneity among authoritarian regimes across time and space. China and other “smart authoritarians” provide public goods, constrain leaders, allow government-controlled civil society, and pursue other policies that encourage growth. These findings have profound implications for the future balance of power (suggesting a shift to bipolarity), for US-China competition, and for the global struggle between democracy and authoritarianism.

This talk is part of the POLIS Department Research Seminars series.

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