US digital crackdown on China aimed at keeping tech hegemony
Washington abuses global hegemony by smearing Chinese tech devt: experts
Published: Jul 22, 2020 08:53 PM
The image of TikTok (Photo: IC)

The US is seeking to further escalate its crackdown on Chinese technology companies, as a new report from a US senator called on the Trump administration to take further measures against China's technological rise, in what Chinese analysts call an attempt to abuse and preserve its global hegemony in the field of technology through bullying tactics.

Bob Menendez, a ranking member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, published a report on Tuesday that smeared China's technology development as "digital authoritarianism," and concluded that China will write the rules of the digital domain if the US and its allies fail to respond.

The report mostly repeated the same accusations US officials previously have leveled against China without any concrete evidence on a range of issues, from China's policy in the Xinjiang region and the national security law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, to the common use of digital technology in security issues.

The most significant takeaway from the report was that the Trump administration, which has stirred up tensions with China on trade, technology and diplomacy, failed to respond to China's rise in cyberspace and called on the US government to rally its allies to counter China.

Following ever-escalating crackdowns by Washington on Chinese companies, including Huawei and TikTok, the report also shows that the US may further concentrate its firepower to contain China's development momentum in the digital economy, in an attempt to preserve its own technology hegemony, Chinese analysts noted.

"The US' intention is to contain China's rise and maintain its hegemony in the tech sector," Li Yi, chief research fellow at the Internet Research Center under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that China has no so-called hegemonic aspirations globally whether in terms of strength or intent. 

While Chinese companies are believed to take the lead in certain areas such as 5G and internet applications, the US remains a global technological power that no other player can compete head on at the moment. The US government's unprecedented campaign against Chinese technology is a clear case of the US abusing its tech hegemony to preserve its hegemony, analysts said. 

In the latest of a rapidly expanding campaign against Chinese tech companies, the US House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to prohibit federal employees from downloading the TikTok app on government-issued devices. Though the move, which is only aimed at federal employees, is mostly symbolic, it could pave the way for broader crackdowns by the US government on not just TikTok but also other Chinese apps.

A TikTok spokesperson disproved accusations of security risks pushed by the US and other foreign officials, and stressed the company's priorities on protecting users' privacy.

"Millions of US families use TikTok for entertainment and creative expression, and we realize this is not the purpose of federal equipment. A safe user experience and the protection of user privacy are our highest priorities," the spokesperson told the Global Times on Wednesday.

TikTok is especially popular among young Americans. About 60 percent of TikTok's 26.5 million monthly active users in the US are between the ages of 16 and 24, according to the company's data in 2019.

Targeting Chinese companies and apps such as TikTok will not help the US preserve its dominance in technology, and could instead hurt its interests, Liu Dingding, a veteran industry analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "Restrictions and unilateralism can only drag the pace of technological progress for China and the US, and their firms," Liu said.