When it comes to technology, the US has an insurmountable lead over China
Does China’s technological prowess makes it a more “formidable foe” than the USSR ever was? Following a year of on-off lockdowns across the West, the world is now waking up to the country’s lofty position in the post-pandemic order. Last year, China’s was the only major economy to grow; its lunar mission was a success; its naval fleet continued to expand; and it emerged triumphant from trade negotiations with the Trump White House. On next generation technologies like quantum computing and 5G, it is a world leader.
No wonder, then, that there is talk of a ‘New Cold War’.
However, as the academic Michael Kwet points out in Roar magazine, this is a misleading picture. America remains dominant. “A closer look at the tech ecosystem”, he writes, “shows that US corporations are overwhelmingly dominant in the global economy.” Kwet looks at the work of the economist Sean Starrs:
Kwet argues that it’s a mistake to think that the United States and China are equal competitors when it comes to technological supremacy:
Outside of China or America, if you are using a computer, there’s a good chance that the software, hardware and network connectivity of the device you’re using is owned or was created by an American company:
A combination of China’s extraordinary economic growth and signs of US stagnation (gerontocratic leadership, continuing racial strife, military disasters) may have blinded many commentators to America’s enduring strengths. The building blocks of Empire in the 21st century — fibre-optic cables, cloud server farms, elite software programmers — are controlled by a handful of mostly US-based corporations. Don’t be surprised if the ‘New Cold War’ is over before it’s even begun.