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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

America is holding on to a narrow lead in a number of new technologies that will shape the future, but China is rapidly catching up.

Driving the news: Per a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, China is closing the gap — and even edging ahead — as an innovator.

By the numbers: In 2008, China filed a tenth as many patents as the U.S. under the international Patent Cooperation Treaty. But, last year, China nearly closed the gap, filing 81% as many. China is catching up to the U.S. in the development of supercomputers. In 2008, China had a twentieth of the number of supercomputers that the U.S. had, but by 2018, it had twice as many. Over the last 10 years, China's expenditures on R&D grew from 33% of that of the U.S. to 76%.

The bottom line: The lead does appear to be slipping away as the pace of China's catch-up keeps accelerating. On R&D investment, "China could become #1 next year," Harvard professor Graham Allison tells Axios.

  • And for the U.S. to lose its upper hand in these emerging technologies could hurt American national security and economic well-being for decades to come.
  • "The trajectories of both sides transform yesterday’s chances for science and tech cooperation into tomorrow’s flashpoints for conflict," says Allison.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists — National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
  5. Cities: Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. World: London police arrest dozens during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
8 hours ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.