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Attempts to crush Chinese tech competitors show US bullying again rather than great: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-08-06 21:13
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A TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken Jan 6, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Although US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo clearly bears no goodwill toward China, the extent to which he tirelessly badmouths the country suggests this is a role that has been assigned to him.

In a regular news conference of the US State Department on Wednesday, he said that the US administration will step up its efforts to purge "untrusted" Chinese apps from the United States, claiming the Chinese-owned short-video app TikTok and messenger app WeChat are "significant threats", and it will expand its efforts to establish what the administration is calling a "clean network" — evidently one without any Chinese presence.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi called the actions "a textbook case of bullying", and said the intention of the US administration was to protect the US' "monopoly position in technology".

With the US cutting its financial support for science and technology due to the costly wars it waged in Afghanistan and Iraq, and China making rapid technological progress thanks to its increased spending during the same period, the US no longer enjoys the overwhelming dominance it once did in science and technology.

And with the rise of China's world-class technology companies coming at a time when a new digital revolution is underway, the anxiety in Washington has developed into an ever-growing dread that the US might lose the advantages in high-tech it had become accustomed to.

In addition to this, the fact that the performance of the US stock market is underpinned by the so-called MAGA (Make America Great Again) club, comprising Microsoft, Apple, Google (via its parent company Alphabet) and Amazon — the four US data giants with a market cap of more than $1 trillion each — means the US administration, which has linked its fortunes with theirs, views the rapid rise of Chinese internet companies as a threat and with a deep sense of foreboding.

As such, although Pompeo cited national security concerns as the reason, the purpose of the "clean network" campaign, which is dirty in both the ideas and the means, is to keep Chinese information technology companies on the ropes, so as to give the US some time to regain the commanding heights in high-tech.

But to achieve that, the US will have to input tremendous energy to raise an iron curtain to oppose market forces. That will have serious consequences for the global supply chains, and Chinese companies will not be the only ones to suffer.

That being said, despite the patience shown by China, in the hope that US policymakers will come to their senses and realize times have moved on from the 1980s, neither the country nor its companies can afford to not prepare for the worst.

Yet rather than seeking to revive the good old days when the US was the peerless cock of the walk, the US administration should consider that even the US with all its power and hubris can't turn back time.

Now it should go with the multilateral flow.

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