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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 57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

National Guard chief: Pentagon's "unusual" Jan. 6 restrictions led to 3-hour delay

William Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, testified Wednesday that a three-hour delay in approval for National Guard assistance during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was exacerbated by "unusual" restrictions on his authorities by Pentagon leadership.

Why it matters: Walker testified that if Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy had not prohibited him in a Jan. 5 memo from using the National Guard's "Quick Reaction Force" without authorization, he would have "immediately" sent troops to the Capitol after receiving a "frantic call" from then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund.

2 hours ago - World

U.S.-Iran nuclear diplomacy is going nowhere fast

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Iran's cool response to the Biden administration's push for diplomatic engagement, along with rising tensions in the region, makes clear that salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal may be far more difficult than many had anticipated.

The state of play: Both the U.S. and Iran have entered the diplomatic dance, but it seems to be moving in circles.

Venture capital platform Indie.vc is shutting down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Indie.vc, an effort launched six years ago to invest small amounts in bootstrapped businesses, announced on Tuesday that it’s winding down.

Why it matters: Venture capital, despite being the money of innovation, is rarely innovative itself. Indie.vc was an effort to break out of the tedium, so its failure is de facto disappointing.