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US-China Trade War: Who’s Winning?

US-China Trade War: Who’s Winning?

Foreign Relations

The August 2023 visit of Gina Raimondo, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, to China demonstrated the progress being made in dialogue between the two nations. However, the United States’ stance remains uncertain as it simultaneously aims for global technological dominance while seeking access to China’s lucrative market opportunities. In response, Washington is prioritizing “de-risking” over a complete “decoupling” of the two countries’ economies. This entails detailed scrutiny of engagement areas to maintain a balance between protecting U.S. economic interests and competitive advantage while maintaining ties with the Asian giant.

Analysis of Past Interactions Shows Resolutions Unlikely for Essential Disagreements

Past interactions between representatives from the U.S. and China suggest that the main disparities between the two major powers are not expected to be resolved in the near term. The U.S. is expected to maintain control over China’s semiconductor industry, and the worldwide supply chain remains unclear. Business and consumer interests worldwide are bracing for the aftermath of the evolving trade conflict. Attempts to reach agreement and establish mutually beneficial collaborations will be key to securing long-term stability and economic growth for both nations.

U.S. Enforcement of Control Measures Disrupts Global Semiconductor Supply Chain

Throughout 2023, the United States has implemented strict regulations such as export constraints on advanced semiconductor chips and commerce blacklists for Chinese firms. These measures, alongside allied countries introducing rules around semiconductor equipment exports, are efforts to preserve technological superiority and national security, as well as tackle intellectual property theft concerns. As a result, the global supply chain for advanced semiconductor technologies has been noticeably disrupted, forcing strategic shifts in the industry and exacerbating competition between the United States and China.

Executive Order Investigates Investments and Transactions in China’s Tech Sphere

An executive order now requires reporting on investments in China’s semiconductor, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence sectors to Washington, with some transactions possibly being disallowed. This strategy is aimed at securing America’s position in essential technology sectors and ensuring sensitive information does not reach potential enemies. Businesses in these industries must be vigilant and comply quickly with such reporting requirements to avoid significant penalties and potential transaction bans.

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Limiting China’s Chip-Making Capabilities to Maintain U.S. Competitive Edge

The United States is currently considering restrictions on companies such as Samsung and SK Hynix to prevent them from aiding in China’s local production of related products. By limiting China’s access to advanced semiconductor technology, the U.S. seeks to maintain its competitive edge and protect intellectual property rights. Furthermore, these constraints could increase pressure on Chinese tech companies, potentially impeding their growth and expansion endeavors.

Concerns Over Restructuring and Realignment of Global Supply Chain Persist

As America remains steadfast in controlling Chinese semiconductors, anxieties around the realignment and restructuring of the global supply chain continue. This ongoing tension is anticipated to affect not only the two superpowers but also various industries and economies worldwide. Companies and governments are actively pursuing alternative methods and strategies to reduce potential risks and disruptions resulting from this prolonged standoff.

Conflict of Opinions Between the Semiconductor Industry Association and U.S. Administration

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and prominent manufacturers in the U.S. express differing opinions on the government’s attempts to curb China’s semiconductor sector growth. While the government’s efforts aim to protect national interests and retain a competitive edge, some experts warn of potential unintended consequences. A lack of collaboration could lead to Chinese retaliation, which might further disrupt the global supply chain and detrimentally impact technological progress in both nations.

Striking a Balance in Policy to Ensure Fair Competition and Industry Growth

The SIA has warned that these measures could inadvertently hurt the benefits provided by chip-related subsidies, thus affecting the involved companies’ competitiveness. Rather than bolstering the industry, these limitations may result in reduced innovation and overall performance decline. Policymakers must strike a balance, ensuring that subsidies augment the sector while promoting equitable competition among firms.

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FAQ

What was the purpose of Gina Raimondo’s visit to China?

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce’s visit to China aimed to demonstrate progress in dialogue between the two nations. It also highlighted the United States’ uncertain stance as it simultaneously pursues global technological dominance and seeks access to China’s market opportunities.

What is the focus of the United States’ approach to economic relations with China?

Washington is prioritizing “de-risking” over a complete “decoupling” of the two countries’ economies. This approach involves carefully scrutinizing engagement areas to maintain a balance between protecting U.S. economic interests and competitive advantage while maintaining ties with China.

What are the effects of U.S. control measures on the global semiconductor supply chain?

The United States’ strict regulations, such as export constraints on advanced semiconductor chips and commerce blacklists for Chinese firms, have disrupted the global supply chain for advanced semiconductor technologies. These measures also force strategic shifts in the industry and exacerbate competition between the United States and China.

What is the purpose of the executive order on investments and transactions in China’s tech sphere?

The executive order aims to secure America’s position in essential technology sectors and ensure sensitive information does not reach potential enemies. It requires reporting of investments in China’s semiconductor, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence sectors to Washington.

How does the United States plan to maintain its competitive edge in the semiconductor industry?

The U.S. is considering restrictions on companies such as Samsung and SK Hynix to prevent them from aiding in China’s local production of related products. Limiting China’s access to advanced semiconductor technology helps maintain the U.S.’s competitive edge and protect intellectual property rights.

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What are the concerns surrounding the restructuring and realignment of the global supply chain?

Anxieties around the realignment and restructuring of the global supply chain continue due to America’s control of Chinese semiconductors. This ongoing tension is expected to affect various industries and economies worldwide, leading companies and governments to pursue alternative methods and strategies to reduce potential risks and disruptions.

What is the conflict between the Semiconductor Industry Association and the U.S. Administration?

The conflict arises from differing opinions on the government’s attempts to curb China’s semiconductor sector growth. While the government aims to protect national interests and retain a competitive edge, some experts warn of potential unintended consequences, such as Chinese retaliation and disruption of the global supply chain.

How can policymakers strike a balance in promoting fair competition and industry growth?

Policymakers must find a balance that ensures chip-related subsidies augment the sector while promoting equitable competition among firms. Striking this balance helps prevent unintended consequences, such as reduced innovation and an overall decline in the industry’s performance.

First Reported on: thediplomat.com
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Kelly Sikkema; Unsplash; Thank you!

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