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US' five gimmicks to maintain scientific, technological hegemony

By Xin Ping | | Updated: 2024-06-03 09:48
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For the past hundred years, the United States has been the "city upon a hill". One important reason is its continued hegemony in science and technology. Whenever its dominance may be challenged, the US will spare no efforts to contain those it perceives as a threat, be it a rival or an ally. The recent US sell-or-ban bill on TikTok is just another typical example. Following are the five gimmicks the US often uses to maintain its scientific and technological hegemony.

Gimmick 1: Loot a burning house

Right after the end of World War II, the US plundered many scientific and technological fruits from Germany. Under the direct intervention of President Harry Truman, a large number of German scientists and engineers were extradited to the US, who later played an important role in US manned spaceflight, moon landing and other landmark projects.

On the eve of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US carried out a "technological harvest" like a busy reaping machine. The American Lockheed Martin company tricked a former Soviet fighter jet design institute into providing relevant technical information with less than $400 million only to renege on its own words and refused to pay the remainder of the promised sum after the Soviet institute provided all the information.

Gimmick 2: Bolster one and bash the other

The US is also good at playing its proxies against each other to secure its own technological lead. After the end of World War II, to counter the Soviet Union and New China in the Far East, the US vigorously supported Japan as it transferred a large number of technologies and manufacturing industries.

However, when the rapid development of science and technology in Japan started to threaten American supremacy, the US swiftly turned to the relatively backward Republic of Korea, supporting its development of semiconductors, automobiles, ships and other industries which were also Japan's strong suits. While these two countries competed, the United States was the one to benefit.

This time, in order to suppress China's high-tech industry, the US has again resorted to the old trick of "supporting the weak and containing the strong". By hiking tariffs, imposing trade restrictions and providing subsidies, the US is vigorously pushing the relevant enterprises to move their industrial and supply chains from China to India and Vietnam in an attempt to create "another China".

Gimmick 3: Blame-shifting

During the Cold War, when the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite in human history in 1957, the US media lamented that the US has lost its scientific and technological advantages and how there would always be a pair of Soviet eyes in the sky looking down at the US. The American people were thus led to believe that the Soviet Union must be contained and suppressed.

The US has pulled such gimmicks not only on its adversaries but also on its allies. In the 1980s, faced with the rapid rise of the Japanese semiconductor industry, the US manipulated the media to hype up the so-called "national security threat" by Japan, stirring up resistance to its ally across the country.

Today, in the face of China's growing scientific and technological strength, the US has kept churning out false information, accusing China of unfair competition in boosting its high-tech industry and blaming China for job losses in some industries in the US. All of these are meant to direct the anger and frustration of the American people toward Chinese high-tech companies.

Gimmick 4: Long-arm jurisdiction

According to international law, the exercise of jurisdiction by one state over an extraterritorial person or entity usually requires a genuine and sufficient connection between the person or entity or its conduct and that state.

However, the US has arbitrarily decided that even the flimsiest connection can trigger its long-arm jurisdiction. Over the past decades, many enterprises, especially high-tech enterprises, have suffered greatly from such US practice.

In 1987, under US pressure, the Japanese police arrested two Toshiba executives who were charged with being "spies" involved in the sale of precision machine tools to the Soviet Union. Toshiba was hit hard with its factories in the US being shut down and with the US imposing a 1 trillion yen (about $16 billion) fine on the company.

In 2013, to beat its competitor, French company Alstom, the US arrested its executive Frédéric Pierucci on the grounds of overseas bribery, and induced him to sign a plea agreement to extract more evidence and information against Alstom. In the end, the French company had no choice but to accept the acquisition by General Electric.

In 2016, the US Department of Commerce added China's ZTE to the entity list for selling communication equipment to Iran. In recent years, the US has made Huawei its target, using diplomatic resources to pressure its allies and even developing countries against using Huawei equipment. Worse still, the US government also instigated Canada to detain Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, for nearly three years to push Huawei into the "US trap" as it did to Alstom.

Gimmick 5: Exclusive Groupings

Forming exclusive groupings is another tool often used by the US to suppress its competitors. In the mid-1980s, Japanese manufactured cars, semiconductors and other products occupied much of the American market. In order to save its domestic manufacturing industry that was losing competitiveness, the US government co-opted allies such as Britain, France and Germany to curb the export of Japanese industrial products.

In recent years, the US is playing the same gimmick on China. From the "Indo-Pacific Economic Framework" to the expansion of AUKUS to include a Pillar II, the US has been forming exclusive groupings to block China's development and progress in related technological fields.

The French philosopher Henri de Saint-Simon once said "There is only one common good for all mankind, and that is the progress of science." In today's globalized world, all countries are interdependent. The Chinese people have debunked the gimmicks of the US and are not afraid of its scientific and technological oppression, because what does not kill you will only make you stronger. If the US must go against the trend of the times, it will only reap the bitter fruits of its own sowing.

The author is a commentator on international affairs, writing regularly for Xinhua News, CGTN, Global Times, China Daily etc. He can be reached at The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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