Stephen Rodriguez co-wrote an article for Foreign Policy about the need for America to implement a new strategy regarding military R&D:
At the end of the Cold War, China did not appear poised to threaten America’s unipolar moment. The country was a nuclear power but largely impoverished. It had a large military; its forces were ill-equipped and not prepared for a major war. The People’s Liberation Army’s main battle tank was a first-generation T-55, first produced in 1949, and the army possessed almost no mechanized forces. Even as late as 2000, the entire Chinese helicopter force consisted of a mere 24 Mi-17s amid a mix of light- to medium-duty transport aircraft.
Fast-forward to present day. Beijing is a force to be reckoned with. Its anti-access and area-denial capabilities, operations in cyberspace, and its missile force keep defense leaders from Tokyo to Washington up at night. And as China’s military becomes ever more powerful, it looks as if the United States has made poor choices in how it has equipped its own military.
But this is not just about missiles and ships. Over the past 10 years, Chinese government investment has included everything from Alibaba to Uber. This strategy has helped it test military-grade capabilities in the commercial market. As a result, Chinese military technologies often exhibit shorter times to market than comparable American defense programs. Beijing also capitalizes on these investments in ways that are missed opportunities for the American defense industrial base.