Project SyndicateProject Syndicate

The Sino-American tech trap

By Stephen S. Roach

24 Jan 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

The U.S. vs China tech stand-offs have been going on for a few years now. This argument looks at why the U.S. approach is one with short-term benefits while China is playing the longer game.

NEW HAVEN – Technology is ground zero in the conflict between the United States and China. For the American hegemon, it is about the leading edge of geostrategic power and the means for sustained prosperity. For China, it holds the key to the indigenous innovation required of a rising power. The tech war now underway between the two superpowers could well be the defining struggle of the twenty-first century.

Huawei, China’s national technology champion, quickly became the lightning rod in the tech conflict between the incumbent power and the wannabe. Feared as the ultimate threat to US telecommunications infrastructure, Huawei has been cast as a modern-day Trojan Horse, complete with a potential backdoor threat in its world-class 5G platform that would make the mythological Helen smile. Supported by tenuous circumstantial evidence – a few espionage charges that have nothing to do with the suspected backdoor, and the presumption of nefarious motives from the long-ago military service of its founder, Ren Zhengfei – America’s case against Huawei is laced with false narratives.

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