China wins war for global technological domination

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When the UK announced in July that it would no longer allow Chinese tech company Huawei to be part of its 5G telecommunications network, it was seen as a success for the Trump administration’s lobbying of its more close ally. Other countries such as Australia and Japan have also banned the company, echoing Washington’s fears of a potential threat to national security.

Unfortunately for Huawei’s warmongers, the vast majority of the world remains open to the use of the company’s technology. Huawei is present in more than 170 countries, including dozens in Europe, and even Canada has yet to be persuaded to block the company linked to the Chinese Communist Party.

This reflects the reality America finds itself in today, which is that China appears to be winning the war to build the global technological infrastructure.

China’s push to dominate technology is coordinated through a program called Digital Silk Road (DSR), a subset of the more well-known Belt and Road initiative. Launched in 2015, the DSR is a heavily state-supported private sector program with the aim of expanding China’s digital presence abroad, thereby strengthening its commercial and political influence.

The DSR responds to the demand for connectivity from Asia to Africa and Latin America. Chinese companies have built much of the world’s digital foundations, including fiber optic cables and telecommunications networks. Data centers have been built and projects set up in the field of smart education and online monitoring. The global pandemic offers new opportunities for Chinese companies in the growing digital healthcare industry, with Huawei and Alibaba sharing their coronavirus detection systems abroad.

Beijing strongly supports this expansion. Huawei’s success was facilitated by a state-backed line of credit that at one point reached $ 100 billion and allowed it to outbid all of its rivals not only on price, but also on R&D. Billions of dollars in loans have been made to countries to purchase Chinese technologies in the name of development aid, and such is the positive impact of DSR on the global digital infrastructure that the program is now benchmarked by the Nations. United as a means to advance its own Sustainable Development Goals.

At first glance, US tech companies are doing very well compared to their Chinese counterparts. Microsoft and Alphabet, for example, are much more valuable than, say, Alibaba or Tencent. Yet in the race to the world, many boards of American corporations are simply unwilling to spend money outside of their major Western and allied markets; Oracle, one of America’s tech titans, holds only a third of Huawei’s global presence. When US companies try to invest in emerging market infrastructure, they run the risk of being accused of “digital colonialism”.

Taking a primarily commercial view means that Western companies are being overshadowed by their Chinese rivals in much of the world. This should be a concern for the United States, given what China wants to do with its technological superiority.

Later this year, we expect the release of the “China Standards 2035” plan, which aims to set global standards for evolving technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G over the years. Next 15 years. With China’s tech infrastructure dominating in so many countries, the 2035 plan will cement China’s standards as the norm and give its companies a significant, and possibly permanent, business advantage over their American competitors.

The Chinese capture of advanced technologies is underway. Baidu, which is sometimes referred to as the “Google of China,” developed the world’s first open source autonomous vehicle platform. It now has 130 partners, including many European manufacturers.

Beijing also has blockchain aspirations. He has launched the Blockchain Service Network (BSN), a government-controlled platform that he wants to dominate not just in China, but around the world. In the first half of the year since its announcement, BSN established a presence in dozens of countries, including Japan, Australia and the United States.

Then there is the Internet itself. China has announced its intention to replace the technological architecture that has supported the Internet for the past half century with a radically different architecture. The design, created by Huawei, calls for a new internet protocol (the so-called “new IP” proposal) that would allow the internet to be controlled by nation states. While unlikely to be adopted internationally anytime soon, the proposal is a stark reminder of how technology is not an ethically neutral field, but rather is underpinned by subjective values ​​that can be challenged.

This is the real problem with Chinese technological control. Beijing wants to set the standards for important future technologies like AI, and the values ​​on which they are based – a move that will move the world away from US commercial and political influence.

The world craves more connectivity, and China is meeting that demand. America needs its own “Digital Silk Road” equivalent if it is to keep its long-term influence larger than its fellow Huawei hawks.

Sam Olsen is the co-founder of Singapore-based strategic consulting firm MetisAsia and a commentator on Sino-Western relations. He lived in Hong Kong and Singapore for a decade. A former staff member of the late Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), He was previously campaign manager for the Prime Minister Therese MayTheresa Mary MayOvernight Defense: Pentagon chief defends Milley after criticism of Trump’s book | Discusses Critical Race Theory | A senior general says the Taliban have “strategic impetus” in the war. Will Ocasio-Cortez challenge Biden or Harris in 2024? The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden takes office and calls for end to “uncivil war” MORE and a British Army intelligence officer, and contributed to UK foreign and trade policy.

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