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(China Plus) The United States is a world-leading technology superpower that is in a league of its own. Despite recent claims that its dominance in such areas as telecommunication, artificial intelligence, and biomedicine has come under threat from competition, its leading position will remain unchallenged for years to come. Recently, however, the United States took a series of measures to limit economic cooperation with China, under the guise of the current trade dispute. The White House released a report titled "How China's Economic Aggression Threatens the Technologies and Intellectual Property of the United States and the World" as it tightened its policies on foreign investment into the United States. It also seeks to contain other countries by limiting access to its core technologies.|
[File photo: IC]The recent actions of the United States comprise of three key aspects typical of technological hegemony.
First, it uses its core technologies to suppress potential competitors and obtain huge profits. For example, American enterprises with ownership of advanced technologies demand high patent fees and create a market monopoly. It even uses its core technologies to impose sanctions on foreign enterprises.
Second, it interferes with market competition by disrupting market stability and undermining or limiting foreign investment using the excuse that it has concerns about its national security. It prevents foreign enterprises from buying American companies that hold the rights to advanced technologies, maintaining strict controls on high tech exports, while also limiting the access of foreign high tech companies to the American market.
Third, it imposes high tariffs on imports of high tech products in an effort to hinder the development of the tech industries of other countries. The recent increase in tariffs on high tech products from China is an example of this.
Over a long period of time, the United States has consistently stayed at the top of the global value chain through its advantages in core technologies. American multinational companies have maintained this advantage even in cases where they have entered into joint ventures and acquired companies outside the United States. If the United States feels that its national security is threatened when its dominance in certain areas of technology faces competition, then what about the national security of the countries that rely heavily on American technology?
Technological hegemony is bound to have serious consequences. It leads to worldwide trade disputes that impose significant costs on global technological progress and international economic development. It may even lead to a reversal in global economic development.
It also disrupts the global value chain. This value chain should ideally develop naturally as countries trade freely on the open market, and each country makes the most of their advantages. By disrupting this highly efficient status quo, the technological hegemony of the United States brings harm to others – but also brings harm to itself.
America's technological hegemony neglects the need of other countries for technological improvement. But, in the long run, trying to prevent other countries from climbing the ladder of technological progress will fail, and the United States is bound to fall into greater isolation in the international arena.
And lastly, the hegemonic behavior of the United States pushes back again the natural progression of technological development and the market economy. The lack of pressure from competitors discourages innovation, eventually leading to a decline in competitiveness.
As the global scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation speed up, the transfer and diffusion of advanced technology is unstoppable. A country that moves to limit and block technological exchange will ultimately end up doing damage to itself.
Economic and technological globalization has brought the countries of the world into a more closely integrated whole. As the trend towards globalization has become irreversible, we should continue to promote cooperation and greater integration of the global value chain. It is a much wiser choice for all nations to jointly promote scientific and technological progress and economic development around the world.
(Hu Zhijian and Chen Baoming are with the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development.)