US politicians bluff with threat to decouple from China

By Ding Yifan Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/7 19:37:59

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

American politicians have been ramping up efforts to deflect their failure to deal with the coronavirus outbreak by promoting a global industrial chain "decoupling" from China, which is a naive move that will ultimately only hurt their own interests.

Ever since the nuclear and space project of "two bombs, one satellite" was launched decades ago, China's technological breakthroughs have been forced to develop independently, and a "decoupling" will not stop China's scientific and technological progress and its industrial modernization.

A forced decoupling from China could only harm the interests of Western firms and impact governmental taxes and residents' incomes.

Foreign investments are consensual actions in which foreign capital gains better profits and China learns modern manufacturing methods. They have contributed to China's development since the beginning of its reform and opening-up. 

Domestic enterprises have contributed significantly to China's rapid development as well. Many world-class Chinese firms in the fields of electronic communications equipment and construction machinery were founded in the 1990s.

As China becomes more and more involved in globalization, the global industrial chain is increasingly dependent on China's manufacturing. For instance, Central China's Hubei Province has been a manufacturing cluster for auto parts, and if its production suspended, the auto production in Japan, South Korea and Germany will paralyze.

Overseas demand for Chinese medical materials such as masks, protection gowns and ventilators has been growing as the novel coronavirus spreads. Some Western countries have realized that market principles do not work under such circumstances and could yet order some industries to move home under new laws. However, compulsive measures can only be effective in the short term, and firms are market-oriented.

There are currently few economies that possess all the advantages China has. As long as market principles are in place, Western firms will be unable to develop without China, which is growing into the world's largest consumer market with the soundest manufacturing system.

Investors will always look for the most robust economy with strong recovery ability and a safer invest environment when a global disaster strikes. 

Though related exchanges and cooperation are important, one country's scientific and technological development cannot depend on connection with other countries. Some western countries have been restricting exports to socialist countries since the Cold War. It is only when China develops the ability to produce certain products that Western countries loosen their export restrictions so as to occupy the Chinese market and dilute Chinese rivals' advantages.

Even amid the pandemic, the US Congress passed a restriction to tighten US technology exports to China under the guise of preventing the technology being used for military purpose. 

That disregards the fact that all chips used for China's missile control system and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System have been independently developed. Instead of creating imaginary problems, the US should try to develop new products to balance bilateral trade.

The author is a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University.


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