US-China techno trade war

How technoprotectionism can kill globalisation

China's push to dominate the tech industry globally is drawing resistance from the US, and that has markets bracing themselves for a techno trade war

Arriving in Beijing last month, I knew I would not be able to connect to Google, Facebook or Uber. As strange as it was to go without these staples of online life in the West, it was even stranger to find that local Chinese didn't seem to feel deprived at all. They search through Baidu, get their social media fix on WeChat, hail rides on Didi, curate news through sites like Toutiao. And while they know Beijing is watching, they accept this surveillance as normal.

The Chinese government has carved out an alternative Internet universe with its own brands, rules and culture, in which privacy doesn't exist. But its real ambition is to break out of this parallel universe and dominate not just the Internet but the technology industry worldwide. To contain Beijing, the United States and its allies are fighting back with a campaign of technoprotectionism, opening a perilous new front in the global trade battles.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'How technoprotectionism can kill globalisation'. Print Edition | Subscribe