Australia Urged to Ban Investment in Chinese Technology Ventures, Following Biden’s Lead
Shadow Home Affairs Minister Senator James Patterson is calling on the Australian government to follow the lead of the Biden Administration and prohibit Australians from investing in sensitive technology ventures in China. This comes after President Joe Biden signed an executive order on August 9, declaring a national emergency in relation to the threat posed by countries using sensitive technologies to advance their military and intelligence capabilities.
The executive order focuses on a narrow subset of investments in artificial intelligence, quantum information technologies, and semiconductors and microelectronics. Its aim is to fill a critical gap in national security, as these technologies are essential for the next generation of military innovation. The order emphasizes that US investments in these sectors risk exacerbating the threat posed by countries like China.
Senator Patterson argues that Australia should adopt a similar approach, considering the strategic importance of aiding China in its technological race with the West. He highlights concerns over intellectual property security and warns that extreme caution is required when it comes to technologies that have economic, strategic, and military implications.
Experts agree with Senator Patterson’s call for investment restrictions. Michael Shoebridge, Director of Strategic Analysis Australia, argues that limiting Australian investment in Chinese technologies with national security applications is necessary to prevent Australian money from empowering technologies that could be used to oppress Chinese citizens or intimidate other nations. Shoebridge suggests adding outgoing investment to the Foreign Investment Review Board process in order to regulate investments on national security grounds.
It is worth noting that the Chinese Communist Party also imposes strict rules on its outgoing investments, particularly by state-owned and other companies. Mr. Shoebridge emphasizes that Australian controls should align with measures taken by partners and allies, ensuring consistency.
Meanwhile, security experts in the United States have praised the Biden Administration’s China ban, stating that it will help establish enforceable rules to slow China’s military modernization. The policy targets transactions that pose a high national security risk without burdening agencies with an overly complex program.
Emily Kilcrease, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, acknowledges that the limited approach might draw criticism from both sides of the China debate. Congressional China hawks may seek greater decoupling from China’s economy, while industry leaders might want more engagement opportunities. However, Kilcrease believes that the executive order strikes a balanced middle ground.
In conclusion, there is growing pressure on the Australian government to follow in the footsteps of the Biden Administration and ban investment in sensitive technology ventures in China. Advocates argue that this is essential for national security and preventing the empowerment of technologies that could be used against Australian interests or the interests of its allies.