Stop me if you've heard this one before: the United States is now engaged in a trade war with China. Actually, you probably haven't heard this one before. I am not talking about Mr Donald Trump's clumsy tariffs aimed at reducing America's trade deficit. I am talking instead about the sweeping new controls the Biden administration imposed on Oct 7 on exports of technology to China - controls meant to constrain other advanced countries as well as the US.
Unlike the Trump tariffs, these controls have a clear goal: to prevent or at least delay Beijing's attempts to produce advanced semiconductors, which are of crucial military as well as economic importance. If this sounds like a very aggressive move on the part of the US, that's because it is. But it needs to be put in context.