The renewal of science and technology agreements between China and the United States in the digital era is necessary.

On January 1, 1979, China and the U.S. formally established diplomatic relations. After a few weeks, Chinese President Deng Xiaoping and U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed a document known as the Agreement between the governments of the People's Republic of China and the United States of America on Cooperation in Science and Technology. This agreement constructed an institutional framework for promoting bilateral science and technology exchanges, subject to modification and extension by the parties, with a duration of five years.

It was last extended in June 2018 and was a part of a broader S&T firm, non-governmental organizations, universities and professional bodies. According to the agreement, cooperation between China and the U.S. included the exchange of scientific information, the implementation of joint research experiments, and cooperation in project planning, the exchange of research results, and the sending of scientists and students from one country to another. The agreement has so far been extended every five years and is considered the foundation for the development of overall Chinese-American economic relations.

The bilateral Scientific and Technology relationship has blossomed over the last 30 years and include protocols covering everything from earthquake science to agriculture, energy, nuclear safety, space technology, high-energy physics, nature conservation, the environment, water resources management, public health, transportation and telecommunications. And interactions involved government agencies, research institutes, universities, professional associations and private corporations. Since early 1979, the PRC and the United States have initiated hundreds of joint research projects and cooperative programs under the Agreement on Cooperation Science and Technology, the largest bilateral program. China shifted its attention to the U.S. for inspiration and economic growth after the collapse of Soviet Union, and realized that it needed to improve rapidly in science and technology with a focus on information technology. The U.S. responded to this shift in attitude with growing direct investments, technology transfers and an increasing commercial interest in exploiting. Technologies interactions with China during this period included manufactory operations, technology and product development. An extraordinary array of U.S. commercial centres, labs and programs began to take root in China, making new era in science and technology relationship. In 1997 during the China- U.S. summit in Washington, the two sides signed two agreements.

The first is an Agreement of Intent and Cooperation concerning peaceful uses of nuclear technology, the exchange of information and personnel training, and participation in research and development in the field of nuclear proliferation technologies. And the second, a Joint Energy and Environment Cooperation Initiative (targeting urban air quality, rural electrification, energy sources, clean energy sources, and energy efficiency). The China- U.S. Climate Change Working Group met in January 2003 in Beijing and agreed to cooperate on a broad range of climate change, science, and technology activities. As the world's two largest energy consumers, both relying on imported petroleum, China and the United States expressed strong interest in developing cleaner energy sources and protecting the environment and global climate. There is strong evidence that China has been developing its scientific, technological, and innovation capacity at a pace that will enable it to become the global technology leader in the coming decades.

China can leverage its growing role in international markets to acquire advanced technologies while increasing its capacity to undertake advanced research and development, often in partnership with foreign interests seeking access to the Chinese market. Partnerships with foreign firms generate technology spillovers that benefit Chinese firms and accelerate innovation and high-tech development. Forecasts call for China's overall economy to surpass the American economy. Chinese firms merge with or acquire foreign firms, and much new technology is coming into China through partnerships with technology and research and development organisations within larger corporations.

China will deploy large-scale government grants, expedited access to bank loans, tax concessions, and other supportive policies to promote a range of strategic emerging technologies, including environmental technology, information and telecommunications, biotechnology, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, nuclear technology, and green vehicles. Tech and automobile giants like Apple, Intel, Tesla (TSLA), General Motors, and Ford not only rely on Chinese consumers but also have manufacturing networks in the country. China is the largest manufacturer (the world's factory) and exporter of goods. Chinese firms and investors own a controlling majority in nearly 2,400 U.S. companies. China is a major trading partner for the U.S., but it is also developing its military capabilities, which pose challenges to the U.S. military. Globalisation provides China's economy with multiple channels for acquiring advanced technologies. China ranked third worldwide in outward foreign direct investment.

Chinese wind turbine manufacturers are all in the global top ten. Lenovo purchased BM's low-end server business and Google's Motorola handset business. Chinese automakers acquired the intellectual property rights of Saab from General Motors and the Volvo division from Ford. The Chinese aviation industry General Aircraft acquired the American company Cirrus. Chinese firms have also acquired research and development resources in machinery (the German firm by Sony, oil, the Canadian firm, and chemical, the French firm by ChemChina). Chinese President Deng Xiaoping clearly saw science and technology as important forces in China-US relations. It is in both countries fundamental interest to advance their relations, and science and technology are essential parts of that relationship. Yet, at the same time, there was also much emphasis placed on the balance and mutuality of benefits. For example, the U.S. Geological Bureau established a China Digital Seismographic Network that helped improve the ability of both sides to protect the location and size of damaging earthquakes. Sharing meteorological, remote sensing and other data improves the ability of scientists from both sides to understand and predict changes in the Earth's climate and ecosystems.

In the wake of the 1989 Tienanmen events and the ensuing sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its Western allies, which included the suspension of high-level contacts between officials of the two sides, China's progress seemed to be in jeopardy. The 1990s, however, saw dramatic Chinese progress in science, technology, education, and economic reform. During this difficult period, (sanctions) regular cooperative activities never stopped and science and technology held a steady course. In 1989, the Bush administration resumed licencing for Chinese commercial satellite launches, and in 1990, many high-level Chinese delegations on scientific missions visited the United States. And in April 1991, the U.S. and China extended the umbrella Science and Technology Agreement for another five years, with a new Annex One with strengthened provisions on intellectual property registration.

Beijing has developed domestic science and technology competencies and has sought to restrict U.S. research access in certain areas. Science and Technology Agreement critics say that China is an unreliable or untrustworthy research partner, citing data restrictions and a lack of sharing of scientific results. The STA has provided the framework for students of the People's Republic of China to study in the United States, a phenomenon that has been central to China's S and T advances. U.S. views and strategy with China have been shifting to protect and advance U.S. interests towards China as a strategic competitor. STA provisions are to provide opportunities for cooperation in science and technology fields of mutual interest and progress for the benefit of both countries. China's five-year plan for 2021–2025 prioritises basic research capabilities to advance China as a global centre for S&T research. STA proponents said that a more developed China has more to offer U.S. research and that cutting off access could affect U.S. S and T advances.

However, in 2023, the extension of the validity of that agreement for another five years was postponed. Since today, many circumstances have changed drastically. Many analysts believe that both parties would be at a loss, and with them, the whole world, in the eventual cancellation of the agreement. At the end of June 2023, several Republican deputies called on US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in a letter not to renew the agreement, claiming that China would try to use it to strengthen its army and undermine the sovereignty of the United States of America. The impression is that President Biden does not want to spoil the progress in relations after the meeting with President Xi Jinping in November 2023 in San Francisco.

The two leaders agreed that a mechanism for intergovernmental dialogue on artificial intelligence should be established. However, it is difficult to imagine the mechanism of intergovernmental dialogue on AI between China and the U.S.A. without a fundamental scientific and technological agreement and political will for such a thing. Those in America who oppose any new agreement claim that China is using the document for industrial espionage and the theft of scientific and commercial achievements. China Daily points out that the agreement was mutually beneficial; by establishing scientific exchange and cooperation programmes, the U.S.A. has benefited from the agreement. Moreover, those who have a more rational understanding do not want to give up cooperation in all fields of technology and science with China. Doing science with China makes the U.S. stronger; in fact, the U.S. gains more than it does risks from joint research. Both sides gain more. In December 2023, U.S. ambassador to China Nicholas Burns started talks with Beijing on renewing the U.S.-China science and technology pact. And while the deal needed to be modernised, the prospects for a new one are uncertain.

Burns said that the agreement was the 'bedrock' of U.S.-China cooperation, but it did not account for advances such as artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, machine learning, and quantum mathematics. Both sides agreed that it had to be modernised, but many analysts say that the agreement must be reworked to safeguard U.S. innovation in a time of high-tension strategic competition with China. China is fighting a semiconductor trade war with the U.S., losing foreign direct investments. There are real concerns in China about how to prop up growth as the U.S. looks to isolate Beijing. It is important that an agreement be reached, but there is a lack of understanding of China in Washington. It seems that the US is calculating, and China has a consistent position, that by canceling the agreement, scientific and technological cooperation would be brought into a very difficult position. Their diplomatic relations are at their lowest point, and the countries remain geopolitical rivals.

The number of research papers by American and Chinese scientists decreased in 2021 for the first time in the last three decades. And scientific relations between the US and China worsened in 2018 when the administration of then-President Donald Trump launched a 'Chinese Initiative' targeting research associated with the Chinese side. Many American scientists, especially those of Chinese origin, were afraid of cooperation with Chinese colleagues. It is a surprising fact that 90 percent of Chinese students who obtained their doctorate degrees in the United States (engineering high technologies and mathematics) have helped the U.S. progress. The problem of extending the basic scientific and technological agreement is only the tip of the iceberg. The U.S., frightened by China's lightening-fast technological progress, has introduced sanctions and laws targeting Chinese scientific institutions and technology companies (Huawei). If the US and other countries stopped trading with China, it would disrupt global supply chains and cause economic disruptions in many countries.

The Biden Administration is trying to negotiate with Beijing before the presidential elections and said it would extend renewal for six months to determine how to proceed. Neomercantilism could easily collapse this living connection between the world's two largest economies, with unfathomable overall consequences. Science and technology experts therefore call on scientists from the two countries to advocate for the renewal of the agreement for the benefit of all humanity.