Technology gets scant mention in trade deal, but slight easing seen

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/16 19:43:40

Technology gets scant mention, but slight easing seen

People visit the 2019 World 5G Convention in Beijing, capital of China, Nov 21, 2019. Photo/Xinhua

Technological cooperation is merely a tiny portion of the phase one trade deal between the world's top two economies, according to the agreement text. 

While clues remain elusive about whether the deal would ease concerns over a "decoupling" in the technology world, the Chinese technology community is looking forward to a more cooperative relationship. 

Scientific and technological cooperation only got a tiny mention in the extensive deal, according to the agreement text posted Thursday on the Chinese Ministry of Commerce's website. 

The 80-plus-page full text consists of eight chapters, including intellectual property rights, technology transfer, food and agricultural products, and financial services. However, when it comes to scientific and technological cooperation, there was scant mention.

At the conclusion of the technology transfer section, there was one sentence: "The Parties agree to carry out scientific and technological cooperation where appropriate," without elaborating.   

The elusive terms regarding technological cooperation have the Chinese technology industry feeling relieved over eased tensions at large. 

"The signing of the phase one deal will bring much-needed certainty to businesses in both countries and around the world," Lenovo Chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing told the Global Times on Thursday. 

As a global company with operations in 180 markets, Lenovo hopes the deal would create a more friendly business environment to ensure that technology serves humanity better, according to Yang. 

Looking ahead with cautious optimism, Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance, said that "I think the matter concerning US suppression of China's advanced technology could not be easily solved in the phase one" agreement.

Xiang told the Global Times on Thursday that "even when the trade tension temporarily eases, the tech dispute will continue." 

In a sign of continued tensions in the sector, Chinese technology giants like Huawei Technologies are actively preparing for the worst-case scenarios by increasing investment in homegrown technologies. 

Huawei UK offered to invest 20 million pounds ($26.12 million) as an incentive to developers in the UK and Ireland to create apps and services for its mobile services unit, reflecting its ambition to accelerate the development of Huawei's mobile ecosystem, analysts said. Huawei became a pawn as Washington restricted American companies such as Google from supplying it with components. 

Ahead of signing the phase-one deal, some media reports suggested that the Trump administration is moving to blocking more sales to Huawei. Under current regulations, the US can require a license or block the export of many high-tech products shipped to Huawei from other countries if US-made components comprise more than 25 percent of the value, Reuters said on Wednesday. 

But now the US is considering lowering the threshold only on exports to Huawei to 10 percent, while expanding the purview of the restriction to some non-technical goods like consumer electronics and non-sensitive chips. 

Some senior executives of Huawei in Europe who spoke with the Global Times said they have a shared understanding that the US may not ease sanctions on the company, showing that the Trump administration won't give up on cracking down on China's rise in high technology. 

Neil Shah, a senior analyst at Counterpoint Research, noted that Huawei's increased investment in building its own mobile ecosystem also showed that with access to the Google ecosystem cut off, "this move helps Huawei accelerate its ecosystem with more international and localized apps and services." 

"In light of US sanctions, we will see Huawei become more aggressive and this will put pressure on Google and the US government," he told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Huawei's cross-town rival ZTE declined to comment on the phase one deal when contacted by the Global Times on Thursday.

Newspaper headline: Technology gets scant mention, but slight easing seen

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