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Expanding the Scope: America’s Holistic Approach to Competing with China

2 Mins read

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Rethinking the Core Assumption

The United States government has been vigorously targeting China’s semiconductor industry as a Tech Competition, with a particular focus on advanced chip-making capabilities. However, it is crucial to consider whether the belief that advanced semiconductors are the sole critical front in this competition is flawed. A more comprehensive assessment is required to navigate the multidimensional and protracted great power contest between the two nations.

Beyond AI: China’s Broader Technological Advancements

While the US concentrates on artificial intelligence (AI) as a decisive advantage, it remains unclear whether China perceives the current applications of AI as highly significant. China’s leadership has imposed regulations ensuring that AI chatbots align with the doctrines of the ruling Communist Party, indicating a cautious approach towards its proliferation. The US must avoid excessive focus on AI and chip-making capabilities and recognize China’s broad technology strengths across various sectors.

China’s Progress in Other Industries

While China has faced setbacks in chip production, its companies are surging ahead in numerous sectors. China has surpassed Germany in automobile exports and is on track to surpass Japan as the global leader. Additionally, Chinese companies dominate the supply chain for solar manufacturing, contribute to the production of components in Apple’s iPhone, and compete with established players in industrial machinery and household equipment. Acknowledging China’s advancements in these areas is vital for a comprehensive strategic approach.

Diversifying Strategic Objectives

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act can contribute to bolstering domestic production capacity in areas such as solar and car batteries. Instead of solely focusing on AI, Congress and the White House should explore opportunities to enhance other sectors, including biotech manufacturing and hence starting a Tech Competition. Addressing America’s reliance on Chinese goods and strengthening domestic manufacturing capabilities in vital areas, such as active pharmaceutical ingredients, will ensure a more resilient and self-sufficient economy.

Recognizing the Importance of a Wide Range of Chips

While limiting China’s access to sophisticated chips is justifiable for national security reasons, it is essential to remember that not all chips are intended for military use. Power management chips, for instance, are crucial for various industries, from automobiles to medical devices. A balanced approach is necessary to ensure that restrictions do not inadvertently disrupt production lines or hinder essential sectors.

Embracing a Holistic and Strategic Perspective

Instead of focusing on continually refining restrictions on emerging technologies, a more holistic approach is needed. This approach involves broadening the strategic focus to encompass a wider range of sectors and committing to the development of less glamorous technologies. By considering the long-term contest with China comprehensively, the US can better position itself to compete effectively and overcome the challenges posed by a large and adaptive manufacturing base.


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