US to raise ante on tech rivalry with China over global influence
The US is seeking to outshine China on “multiple dimensions” including technology, even though officials say they want to limit the rivalry not to extend to a ‘cold war.’
Ahead of the planned virtual meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, officials in Washington have this week tried to reduce the intention to knock China off their perch as mere competition, as opposed to rebuilding a cold-war era of suspicions in the world.
Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser for President Biden indicated in two public appearances this week that Washington will focus on outcompeting China, rather than creating a war.
“We have a choice not to (go to war),” he said at a virtual event hosted by the Lowy Institute in Australia.
Instead, he said Washington will pursue “stiff competition” and will “to compete vigorously across multiple dimensions, including economics and technology.” In fact, he did recognise that China will continue to influence Washington foreign policy around the world as Beijing is now a big factor in international politics.
The revelations now confirm further than the US has not changed its stance towards Beijing from the Donald Trump era. Trump created units in government to tame China’s influence in Africa and other regions, including challenging China’s domination in infrastructure construction in Africa. Trump also targeted Chinese tech giants like Huawei including restricting cooperation with US counterparts. And the biggest bone of contention was the 5G technology where Washington campaigned among allies not to accept Chinese technology.
Although Sullivan had told CNN earlier in the week that the US will seek to co-exist, rather than fight with China, Washington has recently made other announcements to show the focus is taming Beijing.
Last month, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) announced it had created a team to focus primarily on China’s challenge which the agency described as “the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century.”
The China question, William Burns, Director of CIA, said then is “our toughest geopolitical test in a new era of great power rivalry, CIA will be at the forefront of this effort.”
The team will be charged with countering emerging technologies, economic security, climate change and health challenges, according to a CIA bulletin.
Chine promptly described the formation of the unit as a “typical symptom of the cold war mentality.” Zhao Lijian, Chinese government officials said Washington should “stop doing things detrimental to mutual trust and cooperation between China and the US and China's sovereignty, security and development interests.”
On Monday, Biden was expected to speak with Xi although both sides were still discussing modalities. Wang Wenbin, China’s Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry told the media on Thursday Beijing will not accept what he called competition based on US rules, including on what technology to choose.
“Competition does exist in international relations, but it should be healthy competition based on observing the basic norms governing international relations. We oppose unfair competition where one's own rules are forced on other countries as international rules.
“We oppose unethical competition where ‘competition’ is cited as an excuse to restrict other countries' development and deprive them of their legitimate rights and interests. China and the US have both differences and broad common interests,” he said.