GT Voice: US further isolates itself in tech rivalry with China
Published: Apr 08, 2021 08:03 PM
Photo taken on Sept. 5, 2020 shows a view of the 5G communication services exhibition area of the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Zhang Chenlin)

Photo taken on Sept. 5, 2020 shows a view of the 5G communication services exhibition area of the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Zhang Chenlin)

Following a multi-year crackdown campaign, the US is seeking to further escalate its rivalry against China in the technological field. Among a series of recent action plans, the US Senate Commerce Committee is set to hold a hearing on a bipartisan bill, titled the Endless Frontier Act, which is aimed at bolstering US technological research and development, Reuters reported on Thursday. 

On the surface, the legislature seeks to commit extra funding toward the US innovation ecosystem, but according to its cosponsor Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, it is a core part of a legislative package that is aimed at outcompeting China in key technological areas such as semiconductors.

The talk about confronting and containing China sells well in Washington these days and will probably help the passage of the legislation, which, to a certain extent, is a microcosm of the Biden administration's hard-line stance against China, particularly when it comes to technology. 

While the Biden administration has been saying that it is reviewing the previous administration's China policy, increasing signs suggest that Washington's policy of containing China's development hasn't changed, and even worse it is seeking to further step up the crackdown on China.

Just like any other country, the US has the rights to invest more resources to advance technological innovation and maintain its leading position in cutting-edge technologies. However, that does not mean the US can arbitrarily cut off normal cooperation between Chinese and US high-tech companies. 

What's more wrong is that the US is seeking to threaten China's own development in the name of competition. Last month, the Biden administration amended licenses to further restrict companies from supplying items to Huawei Technologies.

Some anti-China US elites are also seeking to step up pressure on US high-tech companies that are doing business in China. US Tech investor Peter Thiel, who is a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, on Tuesday criticized Google and Apple for being too close to China and urged the US government to put a "lot of pressure" and scrutiny on these companies. 

Such politically motivated pressure on US companies that are conducting normal commercial operations in China would only hurt the US' own interests. This wrong approach to Chinese tech is already increasingly damaging to the US economy.

Some in Washington may think they can hold back China's technological development by cutting off access to their high-tech products and services, which in turn would curtail China's scientific and technological advance and economic growth momentum.

Such a distorted understanding of technology competition is fundamentally wrong. As the past several years of US crackdown have shown, the Chinese market is innovative and large enough to quickly adapt to this type of malicious attempts. Outside pressure has and will only enhance China's resolve in pursuing technological research and development, and further boosting the scientific and technological capabilities of domestic industries.

More broadly, no positive purpose can be served by rejecting cooperation. In today's highly globalized tech sector, extensive international cooperation is increasingly indispensable for scientific and technological progress. By arbitrarily putting obstacles in the way of technological cooperation, the US will only end up isolating itself more.

The bottom line is that competition between China and the US may be inevitable, but suppression and containment are definitely not the answer. It is counterproductive and hurts everyone.

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