Can US lead tech cold war against China?

Global Times - Weekend - - OPINION -

The US gov­ern­ment is try­ing to per­suade wire­less and in­ter­net providers in al­lied coun­tries, in­clud­ing Ger­many, Italy and Ja­pan to avoid telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment from China’s Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co, the Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported Thurs­day. One of the US’ con­cerns, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, is that the use of Chi­nese tele­com equip­ment would pose cy­ber­se­cu­rity risks to US mil­i­tary bases in these coun­tries.

If the WSJ re­port is true, it means Wash­ing­ton is ex­tend­ing the bat­tle lines of its cam­paign to crack down on China’s high-tech in­dus­try to its al­lies, and the US is at­tempt­ing to wage a cold war against China in the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor.

Al­though Huawei is a Chi­nese pri­vate en­ter­prise that op­er­ates com­pletely in­de­pen­dently, the US has long ac­cused the com­pany of be­ing con­trolled by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, claim­ing it is a se­cu­rity risk. Huawei has al­most no sales in the US, but even so, it has gained the largest share of the global tele­com equip­ment mar­ket with its ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, be­com­ing the se­cond-largest smart­phone seller world­wide.

Will the US’ sug­ges­tion to ex­clude Huawei equip­ment be ac­cepted by its al­lies? Given the po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence the US has on its al­lies, its de­mand will put pres­sure on these coun­tries. But on the other hand, these coun­tries have used Huawei prod­ucts for many years and widely rec­og­nize Huawei’s tech­no­log­i­cal ad­van­tages. Huawei equip­ment has a rel­a­tively cheap price and of­fers cost-ef­fec­tive ser­vices. Re­fus­ing Huawei tech will mean a more ex­pen­sive, slower and less re­li­able 5G net­work.

Some US elites ad­vo­cate cut­ting ties with Chi­nese tech­no­log­i­cal gi­ants such as Huawei. Elites in Euro­pean coun­tries are also feel­ing the pres­sure of China’s tech­no­log­i­cal progress, in­flu­enced by their US coun­ter­parts, some of whom be­lieve a tech­nol­ogy block­ade against China will help pro­tect the tech­no­log­i­cal su­pe­ri­or­ity of the West.

But the sit­u­a­tion in Europe is very dif­fer­ent from that in the US. Euro­pean coun­tries have no in­ten­tion to con­duct a com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic com­pe­ti­tion with China, and their con­cerns are more fo­cused on com­mer­cial in­ter­ests. Fol­low­ing the US to en­gage in a “tech­no­log­i­cal cold war” with China means huge com­mer­cial losses.

What­ever the re­sults of the up­com­ing meet­ing be­tween Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and his US coun­ter­part Don­ald Trump at the G20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina, China must be pre­pared for and take the US tech­nol­ogy block­ade against China more se­ri­ously. No mat­ter how ag­gres­sive the US is, China should in­sist on re­form and open­ing-up, op­ti­miz­ing the in­sti­tu­tional en­vi­ron­ment to ex­pand over­all co­op­er­a­tion with Europe and Ja­pan, mak­ing the Chi­nese mar­ket more at­trac­tive to Euro­pean and Ja­panese firms.

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