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Weaponizing globalization: Chinese high-tech in the crosshairs of geopolitics
Published on May 30, 2021 26 min
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Welcome to this presentation on Weaponizing Globalization. My name is Francis Schortgen, and I'm presently an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies, as well as business at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio in the United States. In this session, I will aim to shed some light on how and why Chinese high-tech has found itself squarely in the crosshairs of geopolitics. I should also like to highlight that the remarks delivered here are based on a chapter that I contributed to a forthcoming publication titled, 'Huawei Goes Global: Made in China for the World'.
Any recent scholarly endeavor to clarify the nature, complexity, and challenges of US-China relations would seem an appropriate starting point for this discussion. For our purposes, I have chosen to use Graham Allison's book Destined for War, in which he talks about the possibility of a conflict between the United States and China owing to a perceived Thucydides' Trap. Even if conflict between the US and China may appear rather more improbable than inevitable, or at least we would like to hope so, it is difficult not to perceive the evolutionary dynamic of US-China relations in recent years, as charting a seemingly inevitable course to a new Cold War. Hardly what China's Xi Jinping had in mind when he first floated the idea of, "New great power relationship". Indeed, the most recent illustration of this unfolding great power rivalry has been the Sino-American trade war. Yet lying at the heart of Washington's concerns about China's rising prominence is not so much a persistent trade deficit as China's concerted efforts and ambitions to claim the commanding heights of the industries of the future. As such, the forces that are shaping the evolving US-China relationship are indicative of a specific great power standoff, namely, a nascent technology Cold War. I will break down this presentation into four main parts. First, I will offer a very concise contextual backdrop for the discussion by briefly discussing the geopolitical power shifts and associated geostrategic concerns that feed into the perception of a nascent new Cold War. I will then outline how the forces of globalization and the dynamics of competition have begun to crystallize in an innovation, vision, and strategy that lends additional and consequential support to Xi Jinping's 21st century China dream. Third, I will comment on the geopolitical and geostrategic underpinnings of the unfolding US-China technological rivalry and how American efforts to arrest a relative decline in innovation capacity and technological leadership have fed an accelerating Chinese techno-nationalism. I will conclude by offering a few thoughts and observations about how China's "New road to globalization", to borrow a phrase from Princeton University historian Harold James, "Need not usher in an era of destructive competition between the established and rising power in the 21st century international order in the emerging technologies realm". Competition is an ineluctable reality of great power politics.