The world’s most powerful democracies, including the US, India, the UK, and Japan, are starting to align in their efforts to contain Chinese expansion, starting with tech. The newest, and perhaps most important, arena for this contest is shaping up to be new technologies. From 5G to social media platforms, free nations are getting serious about keeping China in check, while they still can.
Britain Gets Tough on 5G
The United Kingdom initially received great criticism for catering to Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The company had a leading bid to develop the country’s 5G infrastructure. Huawei, a powerful tech giant owned by the Chinese state, posed a major threat to the security of the UK and her allies. Developing Britain’s 5G infrastructure would have given China the opportunity to not only control the UK’s access to the technology but to monitor the terabytes of data that traverse its network.
That reality seems to have finally sunk in. This week, the British government declared that all Huawei equipment must be completely removed from their 5G networks by the end of 2027. They’ve asked Japan to assist them in finding an alternative 5G provider. Japan is all too willing to help and is finding ways of its own to extricate itself from Chinese influence.
Japan Pays to Move Out of China
Japan to pay at least $536 million for companies to leave China
Japan’s decision is similar to a Taiwanese policy in 2019, which was aimed at bringing investment back home from China
China is Japan’s biggest trading partner https://t.co/NBJa1JNK7d
— Amit Paranjape (@aparanjape) July 20, 2020
The Japanese government has perhaps gone farther than any other country to reduce its dependence on Chinese manufacturing. The powerful Asian nation will pay its companies over $500 million in subsidies to take their production out of China. The companies can bring production home or set up shop elsewhere in Asia, making it clear that the move is specifically about China.
In a new era of Asian competition, the Japanese have much at stake. China is Japan’s largest trading partner, but the rising nation’s increasingly aggressive stance is making its neighbors, including Japan, very nervous.
India Drives Techno-Boycott
Since May, India, and China have been locked in an intense standoff at India’s northern border. The tension has risen to levels not seen in nearly 50 years, even culminating in casualties last month. In response to China’s aggressive posture, Indians are choosing to boycott Chinese products and technology. Chinese apps like WeChat and Tiktok, which enjoy strong participation from India, are suffering as a result.
In response to India’s boycott, China has begun pulling back its troops from the contested region. However, it may be too little too late. The standoff has spurred a reversal in the trend toward greater tech investment between India and China and is pushing India closer to the US industry. Indian companies have recently landed huge investments from major US tech companies like Facebook and Google.
US Enjoys Growing Consensus
While the world has struggled through major crises this year, there has been one silver lining. Under the Trump Administration, the US has taken a harder line on China and struggled to gather consensus among its fellow democracies to take a firm stance on Chinese adventurism. In 2020, great progress is finally being made, and free countries across the world are presenting a united front against Chinese aggression.
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