'Amer­i­can cen­tury'

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

For the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion's se­nior of­fi­cials, it has been open sea­son on bash­ing China. If you need an ex­am­ple, think of the pres­i­dent's blame game about "the in­vis­i­ble Chi­nese virus" as it spreads wildly across the US. When it comes to China, in fact, the ever more vir­u­lent crit­i­cism never seems to stop.

Be­tween the end of June and the end of July, four mem­bers of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's cabi­net vied with one an­other in spew­ing anti-Chi­nese rhetoric. That par­tic­u­lar spate of China bash­ing started when FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray de­scribed Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping as the suc­ces­sor to Soviet dic­ta­tor Josef Stalin.

It was capped by Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo's clar­ion call to US al­lies to note the "bank­rupt" Marx­ist-Lenin­ist ide­ol­ogy of China's leader and the urge to "global hege­mony" that goes with it, in­sist­ing that they would have to choose "be­tween free­dom and tyranny." (For­get which coun­try on this planet ac­tu­ally claims global hege­mony as its right.) At the same time, the Pen­tagon de­ployed its air­craft car­ri­ers and other weaponry ever more threat­en­ingly in the South China Sea and else­where in the Pa­cific.

The ques­tion is: What lies be­hind this up­surge in Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion China bait­ing? A likely an­swer can be found in the pres­i­dent's blunt state­ment in a July interview with Chris Wal­lace of Fox News that "I'm not a good loser. I don't like to lose."

The re­al­ity is that, un­der Don­ald Trump, the United States is in­deed los­ing to China 2012, with US$3.87 tril­lion worth of im­ports and ex­ports, it over­took the US to­tal of $3.82 tril­lion, el­bow­ing it out of a po­si­tion it had held for 60 years as the No 1 cross-bor­der trad­ing na­tion world­wide.

By the end of 2014, China's gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, as mea­sured by pur­chas­ing power par­ity, was $17.6 tril­lion, slightly ex­ceed­ing the $17.4 tril­lion of the United States, which had been the globe's largest econ­omy since 1872.

In May 2015, the Chi­nese govern­ment re­leased a "Made in China 2025" plan aimed at rapidly de­vel­op­ing 10 high-tech in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing elec­tric cars, next-gen­er­a­tion in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, ad­vanced ro­bot­ics, and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. Other ma­jor sec­tors cov­ered in the plan in­cluded agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy, aero­space en­gi­neer­ing, the devel­op­ment of new syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als, the emerg­ing field of bio­med­i­cine, and high-speed rail in­fra­struc­ture.

The plan was aimed at achiev­ing 70% self-suf­fi­ciency in high-tech in­dus­tries and a dom­i­nant po­si­tion in such global mar­kets by 2049, a cen­tury after the found­ing of the

Peo­ple's Repub­lic of China. Semi­con­duc­tors are cru­cial to all elec­tronic prod­ucts and, in 2014, the govern­ment's na­tional in­te­grat­ed­cir­cuit in­dus­try devel­op­ment guide­lines set a tar­get: China was to be­come a global leader in semi­con­duc­tors by 2030.

In 2018, the lo­cal chip in­dus­try moved up from ba­sic sil­i­con pack­ing and test­ing to higher-value chip de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing. The fol­low­ing year, the US Semi­con­duc­tor In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion noted that, while Amer­ica led the world with nearly half of global mar­ket share, China was the main threat to its po­si­tion be­cause of huge state in­vest­ments in com­mer­cial man­u­fac­tur­ing and sci­en­tific re­search.

By then, the US had al­ready fallen be­hind China in just such sci­en­tific and tech­no­log­i­cal re­search. A study by Nan­jing Uni­ver­sity's Qing­nan Xie and Har­vard Uni­ver­sity's Richard Free­man noted that be­tween 2000 and 2016, China's share of global pub­li­ca­tions in the phys­i­cal sciences, en­gi­neer­ing and math quadru­pled, ex­ceed­ing that of the US.

In 2019, for the first time since fig­ures for patents were com­piled in 1978, the US failed to file for the largest num­ber of them. Ac­cord­ing to the World In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Or­ga­ni­za­tion, China filed ap­pli­ca­tions for 58,990 patents and the United States 57,840.

In ad­di­tion, for the third year in a row, the Chi­nese high-tech cor­po­ra­tion Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Com­pany, with 4,144 patents, was well ahead of US-based Qual­comm (2,127). Among ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia main­tained its top rank with 470 pub­lished ap­pli­ca­tions, but Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity ranked se­cond with 265. Of the top five uni­ver­si­ties in the world, three were Chi­nese.

Neck-and-neck race in con­sumer elec­tron­ics By 2019, the lead­ers in con­sumer tech­nol­ogy in Amer­ica in­cluded Google, Ap­ple, Ama­zon and Mi­crosoft; in China, the lead­ers were Alibaba (founded by Jack Ma), Ten­cent (Tengxun in Chi­nese), Xiaomi and Baidu. All had been launched by pri­vate cit­i­zens.

Among the US com­pa­nies, Mi­crosoft was es­tab­lished in 1975, Ap­ple in 1976, Ama­zon in 1994, and Google in Septem­ber 1998. The ear­li­est Chi­nese tech gi­ant, Ten­cent, was es­tab­lished two months after Google, fol­lowed by Alibaba in 1999, Baidu in 2000, and Xiaomi, a hard­ware pro­ducer, in 2010.

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