The former director of a U.S. intelligence program that helped Ronald Reagan improve America's missile defenses has lashed out at President Donald Trump's technology policies, saying they won't be enough to guarantee America's economic and military superiority over China.
The criticism from Michael Sekora, a trained physicist who ran the Socrates Project for the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1983 to 1990, comes soon after an upbeat meeting between the White House and tech leaders, and amid reports Trump is considering Chinese trade sanctions.
Project Socrates was tasked three decades ago with discovering the reasons why America was losing its economic competitiveness to Japan and others.The program's findings ultimately helped the U.S. surpass the Soviet Union in missile defense technology, according to Sekora, who now runs a Texas-based consulting firm called Quadrigy.
By favoring government procurement of products made by U.S. firms like Apple, Microsoft and IBM and a balance-of-trade approach to foreign policy, "Trump is addressing the symptoms, not the disease" that's caused the U.S. to slip behind China in several key technologies, Sekora told CNBC in a phone interview.
China now has the world's fastest supercomputers, manufactures most of the world's computer chips and is the leading maker of drone hardware, he observed.
"Anybody who thinks China's advantage is cheap labor and currency manipulation is not paying attention," said Sekora, who ran the government effort to boost U.S. competitiveness for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.