US choosing confrontational road with China will backfire
Published: Mar 16, 2021 08:37 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

While advanced technology has become one of the crucial areas of China-US tensions, a recent survey showed that American tech workers, by and large, prefer a closer cooperation with China while Washington's hawkish stance toward Chinese technology companies adopted by the previous Trump administration should be upended.

The survey conducted by US tech media Protocol revealed that 56 percent of respondents said they agree that US government restrictions on Chinese technology companies have gone too far, with another 28 percent stating they remain neutral. And, 60 percent agreed that US tech companies should work more closely with Chinese technology companies.

Also, a majority of the respondents said they believe the future of the world's technology industry evolution is at stake, with 58 percent agreeing that a cold war with China could "cripple US technology companies."

Beginning from Trump administration's tariff war to technology contest with China, US corporations and industry associations have been constantly expressing their disagreement and concerns that it is the American economy which would bear a considerable portion of the loss of the US government's irrational confrontational strategy.

The US government's restrictive measures against Chinese high-tech companies, reaching a fever pitch under the leadership of the Trump administration, was essentially a manifestation of the US jitters of being shadowed by China's rapid development.

However, Washington's aggressive actions did not strike down China, and many American businesses are continuing to stick to China market. Most US companies anticipate a rosy year for their business growth in the world's second-largest economy, with about two thirds of the firms planning to expand their investment in China, according to a recent survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

As the world's two largest economies, China and the US stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Not only it'll be a lose-lose approach for the two giant economies if the confrontation is not stopped, but the whole world will be impacted by the fallout. Instead of wrestling with China, the US, under the new leadership of Biden administration, should adopt a more far-sighted approach and end the lose-lose scenario so as to propel a speedy global recovery from the pandemic.

The development of technology is essentially based on the intention to boost common advance of all mankind. The latest Protocol survey also revealed that tech workers, no matter in which country, are still upholding the initial purpose, believing that the US government' efforts of politicizing technology goes against market rules and historical trend.

China, as the major driven force for global recovery, has been committed to further open up its market to the world and keeps improving its business environment for both domestic and foreign businesses. Shoring up cooperation with foreign firms and institutions is an irresistible trend, including its technology sector.

Against this backdrop, keep playing up a prejudice toward China or trying to cut ties between China and foreign technologies would only backfire. The intentionally created barriers will hurt both sides of China and US, as well as the advancement of all mankind.

As the first high-level dialogue between China and the US approaches, Washington should listen to what the technology industry has to say and stop putting restrictions on the development of its own companies. The so-called economic decoupling has been proved unrealistic, and with business interests closely intertwined, only cooperation would help its firms win competitive edge.

The author is director of Institute for Dialogue of World Civilizations, Huaqiao University.