The end of tech globalization
Tom Fowdy
Editor's note: Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain and the U.S. The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
After the United States government placed Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei on a Commerce Department Blacklist last week, banning it from doing business with American firms, shockwaves were sent through global markets. Technology stocks in the U.S. sank, whilst some microchip providers outside America were forced to suspend business with the Shenzhen company on the grounds they used U.S. components.
In a dramatic space of time, Huawei has been forced to prepare itself for a new reality that in the long run, it must exist independent of and external to American supply chains and technology companies.
Media outlets have been quick to describe the scenario as a "New Technology Cold War" – declaring that the Trump administration's political decisions are now bringing an end to a globalized and interdependent technology sphere which the entire world was a part of.
With the United States having desired to forcefully decouple the two countries, China's only inevitable solution is to become self-reliant. The end product may well result in the creation of two separate and competing blocs of global technology, the American-led one and the Chinese one. Thus for the first time in history, globalization is now being forcefully reversed.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) while stock index plummets, May 20, 2019. /VCG Photo

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) while stock index plummets, May 20, 2019. /VCG Photo

A longstanding aim of the Trump administration has been to forcefully decouple the economies of the United States and China, that being to end mutual interdependence between the two giants, sever dependence upon Beijing and to cut off what they see as China benefiting from American technology.
Whilst Trump's trade war has been spelled out in very simple terms such as jobs, tariffs and "cheating," this is simply to sell and justify it to an audience. Behind the scenes sit these deep abiding strategic goals. Seeing such value in them, it is evident at this point the administration has seen the pain which will be inflicted upon American consumers, as a necessary short-term price to pay.
In pursuing the goal of decoupling, the United States has persistently declared that it does not want "cooperation" with China, but instead "strategic competition," a notion which emerged in the State National Security Strategy at the beginning of 2018.
From here, the administration has further developed a goal to forcefully block China's technological advancements not just within the U.S., but around the world. Taking aim specifically at Huawei, America has aimed to end China's technological successes in the West outright, demanding countries to ban the firm from participating in their 5G networks and then of course blacklisting it outright.
This plays into a wider question of hegemony. The United States has held broad hegemony over the technological world in both hardware and software alike, with the world's leading technology firms being based in the U.S and primarily in Silicon Valley.
Because of this, it has been able to oversee a technological order which has largely been unilateral in nature. As a result, since the 1990s it has permitted globalization and interdependence in this sphere with the expectation the world would be naturally incorporated into its interests and ideology, hence this era believed strongly in the final victory of liberalism.
However, China's technological advances by default grew to pose a threat to America's technological hegemony, starting to draw away from the unilateral tech order which the U.S. once thought was solidified. The result is that with the Trump administration, America is now moving to isolate China from the technological sphere it dominates and reassert its unilateral supremacy over it, hence why Washington has moved to try and force Huawei out of the West in its entirety.
A Huawei smartphone is seen in a Huawei store in Shanghai, May 24, 2019. /VCG Photo

A Huawei smartphone is seen in a Huawei store in Shanghai, May 24, 2019. /VCG Photo

As a result, Beijing is now obligated to push forwards in developing self-reliance in science, research and technology. By default, this means that China now has the opportunity to create its own exclusive sphere of technology and innovation which is not reliant upon American providers.
This means that Trump's actions are set to create two distinct technological blocs, bringing about a de-facto end to the era of technological globalization and interdependence, such only being allowed to exist on the assumption and pre-condition that America could dominate it.
Therefore, in summary, the world is being forcefully reshaped. We once took globalization as an inevitable and irreversible process that would bring all countries and nations together.
However, what we didn't predict is the rise of a reactionary administration in Washington that preached the slogan "America First." Now perhaps more than ever before, we know what that means. It is all about aggressively reasserting U.S. unilateral hegemony against friends and foes alike.
The Trump administration wants to see America maintain exclusive political control over the world of technology and prevent any country, even on merit, from challenging that position. Thus, it is now throwing down its own "Iron curtain" and is determined to force other countries to choose sides. In the long run, there is no guarantee it will win, however.
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