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The Huawei 5G fight is at the centre of the US-China tech war. The Chinese company is one of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment and services providers. A Huawei ban was implemented in the US in May 2019.
The unexpected turn of events involving the Huawei executive and two Canadians calls for greater interaction between Beijing and Washington in the hope of creating a better understanding to resolve disputes.
Meng’s arrival in China has been recast as a moment of great power parity with the US. In the face of military encirclement, it makes sense for Beijing to show its people it has the fortitude to face down Washington in the diplomatic realm.
A close reading of a report on cyber capabilities and national power raises questions about whether China really has the offensive aspirations that keep the US intelligence community awake at night, rather than a defensive obsession built on a century of turmoil at the hands of foreign powers.
Beijing has yet to address the policy distortions that have led to a decade-long growth slowdown, amplified by US decoupling measures. It needs to find a balance in allocating public investment and between accessing foreign technological expertise and developing domestic capacity.
Biden should undo Trump’s needlessly confrontational damage to the bilateral relationship – on condition that China takes equivalent steps back. The deep causes of US-China friction will remain but an easing of tension will give both governments space to re-engage.
Instead of starting another cold war or falling into a Thucydides Trap, the US – and China – should rise above the kind of great power rivalry that has led to bloodshed in the past and instead address the perilous state of global affairs.
Canada’s relations with the rest of the world usually defer to the interests of US foreign policy, but there are limits to what Canada is willing to endure. If talks on Meng fail, Canada should release her unilaterally.
With companies such as Ant, ByteDance, Huawei and Nio inspiring clones in the West, China is becoming an innovation epicentre. Rather than keep Chinese companies out, the West should make clear the areas of collaboration or protection.