US, Silicon Valley unwise to bite the hand that feeds

By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times Published: 2019/3/4 20:43:39

Amid the simmering trade tensions between China and the US and the US backlash against leading Chinese tech companies, Silicon Valley feels uneasy.

According to media reports, US start-ups at the US tech capital are shunning Chinese investment and some deals are not getting done despite years of collaboration between Chinese companies and Silicon Valley.

Apparently, the China-US science and technology relationship is being reshaped and a technology cold war is being waged. A cold war on the technological front can lead to a fracture of technological research and development, and what is also at stake is the global flow of talent.

Top talent in areas including AI and chip design used to flow freely among companies and universities in both China and the US. However, the intensified US government scrutiny of China's tech advancement has given US companies some pause. In turn, Chinese companies which planned to cooperate with their US counterparts or were about to establish research centers in the US will decrease their investment. Chinese tech staff will retreat from the US market by either coming back to China or looking for alternative host countries. 

This loss of talent is a big US gamble. New data from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services shows that visa approvals for highly skilled tech workers are on the decline, which analysts believe will not just hurt Silicon Valley. "The US is putting obstacles in front of people who want to come here and could help our companies grow and outcompete other companies around the world," Jeremy Robbins from the New American Economy was quoted by Recode as saying. 

Now that the world has become globalized, technology is also integrated as is the talent system. The rise of Silicon Valley is a result of the inflow of talent to the US from all over the world. If the US squeezes Chinese technology and Chinese tech workers off its soil, it risks losing its advantages.

However, with techno-nationalism in the US on the rise, it seems that Washington would rather sacrifice its advantages in order to satisfy short-term domestic political interests. 

At this juncture, the US will give every possible reason not to allow in Chinese tech talent, which can be a big challenge for China. But if utilized, it can serve also as a chance for China.

China needs to stick to opening-up and integrating more with the world and cultivating its own talent pool. When its business environment gets better and an international innovation and technology hub is created to spur investment and power growth, more foreign talent and overseas Chinese will be attracted to this land of vast opportunities.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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