Chinese and American national flags flutter on a lamp post in front of the Tiananmen podium during the visit of US President Donald Trump in Beijing, China on November 8, 2017. Niu bo / Oriental Image via Reuters

In a 1982 speech, then US Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger warned that the United States had allowed unrestricted technology transfer and trade with the Soviet Union for almost a decade. This high-tech transfer, the secretary argued, was carried out through “legal and illegal channels” and was practically the technological “rope to hang us up” as it strengthened the Soviets’ military capabilities.

Replace the Soviet Union with China and the themes of Weinberger’s speech today don’t seem out of place. At the time, a strategic competitor appeared through a concerted campaign of technology transfer driven by US science engagement policies, an open academic system and …

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