Fareed Zakaria’s Jan. 17 Friday Opinion essay, “Why Trump caved on China,” insightfully observed that our best counter to China’s rise would be for Washington to make major investments in science and technology, infrastructure and job training to ensure that the United States can “out-innovate and out-compete anyone.” Indeed, I heard the same assessment from former defense secretary William Perry in April 2005 when he keynoted a U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing on “China’s High Technology Development” at Stanford University.

The congressionally chartered commission chose Stanford because Silicon Valley represents the heart of the U.S. technological base. I participated as the State Department’s director of science and technology cooperation, in which capacity I served as the U.S. co-secretary of the U.S.-China Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement of 1979. Mr. Perry observed that, “when you look back and you see somebody chasing you. And there’s a temptation to try to find some way of slowing him down. And I’ve always believed that’s the wrong approach. The right approach is to run faster.”

Asked specifically about China, Mr. Perry responded, “I don’t think there’s much we can do to hobble them, but I think there is a lot we can do to make sure we keep running faster.” Thus, it is discouraging that, 15 years after Mr. Perry’s cogent assessment, the American Association for the Advancement of Science notes the current U.S. government’s sharp reduction in funding for scientific research. Mr. Perry was correct then, and Mr. Zakaria is correct now.

George Dragnich, Arlington

The writer is a retired minister-counselor
of the U.S. Foreign Service.