America’s onslaught against Chinese tech companies has undoubtedly proved one thing: USA is losing its technological prowess and competitive edge.
In the ideal world, the US would have had 5G products that are way better than Huawei. Instead, the US has spent the last two years attacking Huawei using all kinds of nefarious tactics — from forcing other countries to ban Huawei to arresting Huawei’s CFO (who’s also the daughter of Huawei’s founder).
And US social media giants would have never let TikTok become the #1 downloaded smartphone app for more than a year now.
Impressively, TikTok is the fastest growing app ever — acquiring users 3x faster than Facebook or Instagram. There are already 100 million active users in the US alone.
Heck, last year, Facebook tried to clone Tik Tok, but the app called Lasso was shut down in July 2020. Few months ago, Instagram cloned TikTok (the clone is called “Reels”) and is now praying for the death of real TikTok. But this is all pathetic.
TikTok’s creator – ByteDance – is not just any ordinary company. It happens to be the most valuable startup in the world, being worth more than $75 billion. Also, note that, in the top 10 biggest global unicorns, four are from China. The whole propaganda about “China cannot innovate” is laughable.
Apart from trying to kill TikTok and wound ByteDance and Huawei, the US has also blacklisted numerous Chinese hi-tech and Artificial Intelligence companies like HikVision, SenseTime, iFlyTek, DJI, and dozens of others. If the US had competitive products, there would be no need for such protectionist and paranoid moves. By the way, the creator of TikTok is ByteDance, which has been the most valuable startup — worth $100 billion —for the last two years or so. (In China, TikTok has a twin app called Douyin).
As economist, professor and global policy expert Jeffrey Sachs succinctly put it, the attacks on China are happening not because China is stealing, but because China is getting ahead of us.
Let’s go into the details of why the US is so hostile towards Chinese technology enterprises. Six reasons:
**1. To slow down China’s economy: Restricting Chinese companies means restricting their profits and thus slowing down China’s economy. So far, China’s indigenous technology has been focused on its domestic market. Now, it’s ready to take on the outside market of six billion people. The potential for growth is unimaginable. As I pointed out in a previous blog, China may very well catch up with the US by 2025.
**2. Data Power: “Data is the new oil.” With 2 billion downloads, TikTok has lots of great information about people’s behavior that will be useful for marketing and e-commerce. It’s worth hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few years. (Imagine watching a 7-second video and then buying a product with a single click!).
**3. Spying : Whether Huawei will actually be used to spy, what is important is that every country that uses Huawei *deprives* the US government the ability to spy on the elites of that country. For example, Qualcomm has 400 security “flaws” that make 40% of all smartphones vulnerable to spying and hacking! As Edward Snowden revealed, every American hi-tech company is in bed with America’s spy agencies.
What’s really staggering about America’s chutzpah is that it’s the USA that hacked Huawei’s servers in China! Codenamed “shotgiant,” the NSA scheme got into Huawei’s internal servers in 2012 and stole emails and IP. Some experts suspect that the NSA might have planted backdoors into Huawei’s devices as well.
Similarly, consider the double standards involved in demonizing TikTok, while a US company (“Anomaly Six”) that is closely related to the US military has rigged 500+ mobile apps to spy on hundreds of millions of people all over the world! People just read this article and move on. If the same news were about China, there would be an enormous uproar and Americans will be repeating this story for the next decade.
Spying power is the ultimate tool for an Empire. You can find out who your enemies are, and eliminate them; you can use spying for corporate espionage and steal ideas; you can find out embarrassing secrets about leaders of countries and then blackmail them or stage a coup.
**4. Propaganda: Every social media is also a propaganda tool that censors some information and promotes other ideas. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook constantly engage in such propaganda every day on behalf of the military-spying complex (but they get excused because they’re a private entity!). TikTok can do the same in subtle ways now and more overtly a couple of years down the road. In the information warfare, competition is a dreadful word.
**5. Military superiority is based on technology: The most important pillar of American supremacy is its military, which again depends on technology. Imagine if China had jamming technologies that make US fighter jets and ships obsolete; or if Chinese radar could use quantum computing to make radars that can detect stealth fighters or crack all US codes? Going further, how about if China can create #AI-powered self-flying fighter jets or self-sailing warships? Imagine thousands of smart drones or robot soldiers attacking US military bases in Guam. Although such scenarios aren’t imminent, the US wants to make sure that Chinese tech companies aren’t too profitable or too advanced.
**6. Success of China model: The US has invested a lot in the ideologies of “American exceptionalism” and anti-Communism. That a communist/socialist country can foster innovation and even surpass the USA is a horrible fact that can’t be allowed to exist.
However, facts are different from delusions — China, for the first time, surpassed the US in international (WIPO) patents in 2020. Check out my other blog post on China’s astonishing global leadership in many areas.
Conclusion: The big problem here is that America fell asleep.
The evolution of US attitude towards China has been like this:
- Before year 2000: “Haha … China will be stuck with low-end manufacturing.”
- 2000-2008: “Haha … China can only copy western products.”
- 2008-2018: “Haha … Chinese are innovating, but they will never succeed outside China.”
- After 2018: “OMG! China is taking over the world! Time to kill their products!”
As Elon Musk recently said, “Chinese are smart and hardworking. They are not entitled and complacent like Americans.”