Losing trade, tech war means end of US imperialism


The US is losing its tech war with China. PHOTO/Twitter/AFP/Getty

A pending Chinese ban of exports of strategic materials and technology foreshadows an end to the US-dominated world order

China on Tuesday announced intent to move forward on a legislative initiative to ban the export of strategic substances and technology to foreign companies that could pose a “national security threat.”

The legislation is expected to be ratified early next year after China’s law-making body, the National People’s Congress, green-lights it.

This legislation may be the first of its kind in China’s commercial history.

The law could ban the export of strategically essential supplies such as rare-earth materials and technology to US companies and their foreign subsidiary entities.

Earlier, in late August, China’s ministries of Commerce and of Science and Technology jointly announced an update on the catalog of “technologies prohibited or restricted from export.” It was the catalog’s first update since 2008.

These decisions look like tit-for-tat to the “Entity List” issued by the US targeting Chinese tech giant Huawei and the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC).

Beijing also adopted the “dual circulation” policy in late June. This is aimed at preparing the economy for self-sufficiency if the US decouples economically from China completely.

Similarly, at the 75th United Nations General Assembly in September, Chinese President Xi Jinping surprised observers by pledging that his country’s economy would be made carbon-neutral by 2060 or earlier.

At first glance, it seems that Beijing has retaliated against the US tariffs on Chinese exports and sanctions against its tech companies. However, its latest legal initiative, if it comes into force, will profoundly affect global geopolitics and geo-economics in the future.

History tells that the world order changes at a time of crisis. The World War II crisis brought a wave of de-colonialism in the world. National liberation movements against European colonialism swept across many Asian, African and Latin American countries.

Similarly, the ongoing Covid-19 crisis has set the stage for a new China-influenced world order. China will play a crucial role as a starting point for the end of another phenomenon,  imperialism, something the US has been practicing as part of the post-World War II world order.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US believed it enjoyed unchallenged global supremacy. But in the post-pandemic world, the geopolitical map will change drastically. And China will be central to that change.

China wants to send a message to the US that it cannot set international trade rules unilaterally on the strength of its military capability and strategic and military alliances.

It is difficult to predict the exact date of the complete culmination of US imperialism’s decay. Still, that process has now begun. It is similar to the wane of British colonial dominance after World War II. It is widely believed that the complete end of British dominance coincided with the 1956 Suez crisis.

Although imperialism is an old concept in social science, the British political economist A J Hobson systematically discussed it in 1902 for the first time. Later on, in 1916, Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin wrote a book titled Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.

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