Analysis & Opinions - Inkstick

The US–China Tech War Isn’t Inevitable

| Feb. 18, 2022

The US and China should cooperate on tech, not go to war over it.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described the Biden administration’s China policy as “competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be.” By contrast, President Donald Trump was much more bellicose when addressing China, saying “we could cut off the whole relationship” and calling Chinese President Xi Jinping an “enemy.” But President Joe Biden’s policies toward China have often been just as adversarial as Trump’s, especially with respect to technology.

Biden has imposed restrictions on over 100 Chinese tech companies since taking office, ranging from quantum computing firms to genomics research institutes. Just last week, the administration slapped export controls on 31 more Chinese tech companies. Yet, for all the chatter among the foreign policy intelligentsia about whether conflict between the US and China will escalate to a full scale war, there is little recognition of the ongoing economic warfare between both countries in emerging technology.

This war over technology is counterproductive for both countries. Attempts to decouple from China’s technology sector have worsened the ongoing global supply chain crisis driving inflation in the US. Sanctions on Chinese green-tech firms hamper the global fight against the climate crisis. America’s hawkish approach toward China on tech also precludes cooperation on issues where the US and China could partner to become global leaders, such as limiting the use of lethal autonomous weapons and distributing digital public goods.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Klyman, Kevin.“The US–China Tech War Isn’t Inevitable.” Inkstick, February 18, 2022.

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