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The End of the World As We Know It

Last month, under pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administration, Google terminated its cooperation with Huawei, thereby depriving the Chinese smartphone maker of the license to use Google’s Android software and related services. The move marks both a new pinnacle in the Sino-American conflict and the end of US-led globalization.

BERLIN – After three decades of moving toward a single global market governed by the rules of the World Trade Organization, the international order has undergone a fundamental change. The United States and China are locked in a tariff war that at first seemed to be about the bilateral trade balance, but has turned out to be about much more. Until recently, one could find hope in the fact that, despite frequent exchanges of threats, the two countries were negotiating. Not anymore.

Last month, under pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administration, Google terminated its cooperation with Huawei, thereby depriving the Chinese smartphone maker of the license to use Google’s Android software and related services. The move poses an existential threat to Huawei. But, more than that, it marks both a new pinnacle in the Sino-American conflict and the end of US-led globalization. The message from the US is clear: technology and software exports are no longer just a matter of business; they are about power. From now on, the US will put might over market.

Now that the conflict has assumed the form of a hegemonic struggle, China may have to pull out all the stops to protect its national champions. That means withdrawing as quickly as possible from all supply chains that rely on US-made high-tech inputs, particularly semiconductors. China would have to start sourcing all the necessary components domestically, or from safe partners within its orbit.

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