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American restrictions on Chinese technology firms are a blessing in disguise

By Zamir Ahmed Awan (People's Daily Online) 13:19, December 08, 2021

The Biden Administration added a dozen Chinese companies to its trade blacklist on Nov. 24, 2021. The recent blacklisting has exposed the credibility of the superpower, which plays double standards in global politics.

According to media, of those blacklisted, eight Chinese technology entities were added due to their alleged role in assisting the Chinese military’s quantum computing efforts.

The blacklisting does not stop with the Chinese companies. The Commerce Department also listed 16 entities and individuals operating in the People’s Republic of China and Pakistan to the Entity List for their contributions to Pakistan’s “unsafeguarded nuclear activities” or ballistic missile program.

In all, the Biden Administration added 27 entities and individuals located in the PRC, Pakistan, Russia, Japan, and Singapore “for engaging in activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.” One entity based in Russia was also added to the Military End-User (MEU) list.

They set a condition that suppliers to companies on the entity list should apply for the license before they can sell to them, which is likely to be denied.

Indeed, national security is supreme and, above all, not only for the world’s superpower, but all states including China, which happens to be the second-largest economy and an emerging power.

They also have the right under the law to protect and defend themselves against their potential rivals/competitors.

But these recent measures test the credibility of the US as a superpower, with all its military and economic might and which is keen to improve its image in the world.

The international law as exercised by the superpower selectively uses the “pick and choose” formula that goes beyond its role description in global politics.

The Chinese government's reaction to such measures seriously tests the credibility of the superpower, where such measures are coming up in times of serious tensions between the two superpowers, the US and China, over Taiwan and trade issues.

The Chinese side charged that the US uses the catch-all concept of national security and abuses state power to suppress and restrict Chinese enterprises using all possible means.

Shu Jueting, a spokesperson for the Chinese Commerce Ministry, said on 25 November that China strongly opposes the sanctions on the Chinese companies, and will lodge solemn representations with the US.

Zhao Lijian, the spokesman at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, warned that China will take all the necessary steps to defend its companies, and reserves the right to take countermeasures against the sanctions.

Pakistan also condemned the attempts made by the US, pointing out that Pakistan’s nuclear weapon is in a foolproof security environment duly acknowledged by the superpowers, IAEA, and several US officials.

They need to monitor and keep a close watch on the nuclear material being sold in the black market in India, as per media reports such as: The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of West Bengal seized radioactive element Californium from two persons in Kolkata airport area on August 26, 2021, the Economic Times reported; 6.4 kg of uranium was seized in India and police arrested seven persons on June 3, 2021, the Indian Express reported; the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested two persons with 7 kg of natural uranium on May 6, 2021, the Wire reported.

The so-called champion of non-proliferation, the US has remained silent as if on holiday on the black-marketing of nuclear material.

Had this been found in the case of Pakistan, the US might have suspended its holidays and would have treated it with sanctions and strict measures.

Isn’t this a dual standard in international politics? Is it consistent with the job description of the superpowers as mentioned above? It is against this background that people are questioning on what grounds the US can blacklist Chinese firms for allegedly aiding Pakistan’s nuclear activities, where the US itself is not taking any action against nuclear material black-marketing in India, its ally and a partner in the US-India nuclear deal. Other concerned countries will surely express serious reservations over such extreme measures.

It’s not only favoritism in tech and trade policies that are making states upset with the US, but also global politics, war strategies, and human rights issues that question the superpower’s credibility in the world today.

To be a role model and powerhouse ensuring all states get fair treatment is what is required, not cherry-picking!

Unfortunately, the US is supporting India's weapons programs under the Civil Nuclear deal and providing nuclear-powered submarines to Australia under the AUKUS pact. It is extreme hypocrisy!

In fact, sanctions and coercion were never fruitful and have never achieved the desired results. It reflects only a cold war mentality and failed exercises of the US in the past.

On the other hand, it might help China gain more independence and develop its indigenous technologies. Looking at the statistics, Chinese R&D, innovations, registered patents and research publications are very encouraging. I am confident that the US will beg China for advanced technologies in the future. It is only a matter of time.

Zamir Ahmed Awan is a senior fellow with the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan. E-mail: [email protected].

This article does not necessarily reflect the views of People's Daily Online. 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)

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