Cui Xiaotao: Trump's technical iron curtain against China benefits no one

CGTN | 作者: Cui Xiaotao | 时间: 2020-06-12 | 责编: Wang Jiapei
Adjust font size: + -


While the United States is struggling to deal with the Coronavirus Crisis, its technological containment of China is escalating. On April 24, the Federal Communications Commission said it would review four Chinese telecommunications companies operating in the United States. On May 15, A new rule, introduced by the U.S. Department of Commerce, expands U.S. authority to require licenses for sales to Huawei of semiconductors made abroad with U.S. technology. Several days later, the U.S. Department of Commerce added 33 Chinese high-tech enterprises, institutions, and individuals to the "Entity List."


In addition to tightening the blockade against Chinese companies, the United States also intends to further restrict Sino-U.S. academic exchanges. According to a report by The New York Times on May 28, the Trump administration plans to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students and researchers in the United States who have direct ties to universities affiliated with the PLA.


The strengthening of the technical iron curtain against China by the United States was driven by multiple factors, but none of them is justified.


First, U.S. has deep-rooted bias against Chinese companies. The United States believes that Chinese companies and technologies are not trustworthy and the economic interdependence between China and the United States is a major threat to its national security. U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in a February speech that "from a national security standpoint, if the Industrial Internet becomes dependent on Chinese technology, China would have the ability to shut countries off from technology and equipment upon which their consumers and industry depend".


The second is to continue the so called "great power competition" with China. In 2017, The National Security Strategy stated that engagement policy has failed in its original purpose of changing China, and U.S. should turn to pursue a containment policy and compete with China. The U.S. also sees China's technological progress as a challenge to American hegemony.



Since then, the U.S.-China competition has started in the field of trade and spread to the technological field. In May 2020, the "United States Strategic Approach to the People's Republic of China", submitted to the Congress by the Trump administration, restated these arguments, claiming to continue the "major power competition" with China in many fields, including the technological area.


The third is to seek political gains before the presidential election. Showing toughness against China has become an exploitable means for some American politicians to obtain political gains. With the launch of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the fight between Trump and Biden has intensified, and both sides have once again turned their attention to the anti-China trick.


Trump has repeatedly accused Biden and the Democratic Party of being weak on China. Biden said that Trump is "tough talk, weak action", arguing he will hit Beijing harder than anyone. Driven by this vicious circle, the Trump administration has continuously issued policies to suppress China's high-tech industry, hoping to further show its tough stance on China and win votes for the general election.


Technology bullying by the U.S. will end up hurting itself. On the one hand, the globalization of science and technology is driven naturally by the free market. Intentionally distorting the relationship between technology and market will be punished by the rules of the market. China is already an important manufacturing base and a huge market for the global tech industry. Facing the unfair regulations and constraints imposed by the United States, many foreign companies doing businesses with China's counterparts are seeking "de-Americanization" in the supply and industry chain.


On May 11, The Asia Times reported that since the U.S.-China tech war began in April 2018, "de-Americanization of supply chains" has been the buzzword in the semiconductor industry. Japan now ships more semiconductors to China than it does to the United States. The article also said while America contemplates decoupling from China, the trade statistics for this March shows Asia is decoupling from the United States.


On the other hand, technology bullying will also damage America's reputation and credibility. As a global super power, the United States employs its state apparatus in every conceivable way to suppress and block out high-tech companies of another country, which clearly violates the principles of free market, fair competition, and rule of law that the United States touts.


This misbehavior will also enable other countries and companies to reconsider their future relationships with America. They will be more cautious when doing business in the United States. Huawei has been blocked out by the United States because of its leadership in the 5G field. High-tech companies in other countries have enough reasons to doubt whether they will face a similar situation in the future.



Cui Xiaotao is an assistant research fellow with the department for American studies at the China Institute of International Studies. 



Source: CGTN, June 2, 2020.