Last week, within days of Washington applying sanctions against Chinese quantum technology, US President Joe Biden blocked the release of audio recordings of his interviews with a specially appointed committee. In an apparently single sweep, the US was flexing its power domestically and its influence abroad while the British elected Pan Jianwei, China’s “father of quantum”, as a fellow of London’s Royal Society.

Pan is a leading physicist who built the world’s first quantum satellite and is among “over 90 exceptional researchers from across the world” named by the Royal Society in 2024, in recognition of “their invaluable contributions to science”. Biden is president of an important (and historically vital) country in the global political economy of the past six or seven decades. While the comparison of two apparently discrete events is not entirely appropriate, it does lead to thinking about the political economic relations of the past several decades. I may be mixing up th...

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