Don’t Let Geopolitics Kill the World Economy
When advocating their interests in a globalized world, great powers should calibrate their trade and technology polices carefully, eschewing measures that are designed for the express purpose of weakening their competitors' development prospects. With its latest moves against China, America has failed this test.
CAMBRIDGE – At the Communist Party of China’s 20th National Congress last month, the country’s one-man rule under Xi Jinping became fully entrenched. Though communist China has never been a democracy, its post-Mao leaders kept their ears to the ground, paid attention to voices from below, and thus were able to reverse failing policies before they became disastrous. Xi’s centralization of power represents a different approach, and it does not bode well for how the country will deal with its mounting problems – the tanking economy, the costly zero-COVID policies, growing human-rights abuses, and political repression.
US President Joe Biden has significantly added to these challenges by launching what Edward Luce of the Financial Times has appropriately called “a full-blown economic war on China.” Just before the Party Congress, the US announced a vast array of new restrictions on the sale of advanced technologies to Chinese firms. As Luce notes, Biden has gone much further than his predecessor, Donald Trump, who had targeted individual companies such as Huawei. The new measures are astounding in their ambition, aiming at nothing less than preventing China’s rise as a high-tech power.
The United States already controls some of the most critical nodes of the global semiconductor supply chain, including “chokepoints” such as advanced chip research and design. As Gregory C. Allen of the Center for Strategic and International Studies puts it, the new measures entail “an unprecedented degree of US government intervention to not only preserve chokepoint control but also begin a new US policy of actively strangling large segments of the Chinese technology industry – strangling with an intent to kill.”
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