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The End of “Chimerica”

By threatening the survival of the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the Trump administration has put an end to speculation about a possible rupture between the United States and China. A full-scale decoupling between the world's two largest economies is now underway, and a new age of zero-sum competition is beginning.

BERLIN – The escalating rivalry between China and the United States is ushering in a bipolar world. While the past few decades have been defined mostly by cooperation among the world’s leading powers, the next few will be marked by zero-sum competition. Already, globalization and the deepening of ties between countries is giving way to what has euphemistically been called “decoupling.” Countries and regions are sorting themselves into smaller economic and geopolitical units under the guise of “taking back control.”

All of these trends are on display in the fight over the Chinese technology giant Huawei, a multinational company that purchases components from the US, Europe, Brazil, and elsewhere, sells its products in 170 countries, and is leading the expansion of 5G networks in many parts of the world. Until recently, Western businesses welcomed Huawei’s low-cost, high-quality products; its presence kept US and European tech firms on their toes.

But now, the Trump administration’s ban on sales of key components to Huawei by US firms, and its pressure on US allies to do the same, seems to have triggered a full-scale reversal of globalization. If Huawei and other Chinese “champions” are to survive, they must end their supply-chain dependency on the US.

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