United States intelligence agencies recently asked US companies not to cooperate with Chinese companies in the fields of artificial intelligence and semiconductors, because it could eventually give China a decisive edge and possible dominance in these essential sectors.
Such a blatant technology blockade in a bid to maintain the US’ hegemony in the field of scientific and technology runs counter to the spirit of “fair competition” that Washington loves to talk about. It’s an example of the kind of fair competition the US believes in, one that will consolidate its hegemony and maximize its interests.
History is replete with instances of the US hiding its selfish interests behind the cloak of fair competition. In the 1980s, to check the rise of the Japanese semiconductor industry, the US took unprecedented protectionist measures against Japan, including launching investigations against Japanese enterprises, restricting exports, imposing high retaliatory tariffs on Japanese high-tech goods, and moving the semiconductor market to the US.
At the start of this century, when its steel industry was facing challenges, the US did not try to improve its competitiveness. Instead, it imposed additional tariffs, import quotas and other measures on its competitors, including European Union countries, in the name of “fighting unfair competition”.
The US always talks about “creating a level playing field”, but in reality it intends to check China’s rise. In fact, its dealings with China have been unfair, unjust and unreasonable. It has triggered trade frictions with China, banned normal investment by Chinese companies, imposed sanctions on Chinese companies on the pretext of “national security”, and rallied allies to squeeze Chinese companies’ overseas markets. The US embassies in some African countries have even paid journalists to publish negative reports to smear Chinese companies.
Is US-style fair competition good for the US?
According to studies conducted by several US institutes, the trade war initiated by the Donald Trump administration in 2018 has cost the US more than 200,000 jobs and led to a 49 percent drop in its inbound foreign direct investment in 2020.
In March this year, more than half of the respondents to a US media survey covering over 1,500 tech professionals admitted that the sanctions imposed on Chinese tech enterprises will harm US tech companies.
It is time for the US to make amends, abandon playing the “fair competition” game which puts US interests first, and follow the path of mutual respect and seek mutual benefits.
The many different trade and aid policies being pursued by China globally have been heavily criticised but can developing countries become more independent or will China’s policy reform?