U.S. should stop taking "national security" as catch-all excuse

By Zhong Sheng (People's Daily) 14:44, February 07, 2024

Recently, the U.S. Department of Defense once again used "national security" as an excuse to include some Chinese chip and artificial intelligence (AI) companies on its discriminatory lists, and threatened to take further measures against these entities.

The U.S. side consistently invokes "national security," overstretches the concept of national security, and abuses its state power to restrain the development of other countries' enterprises. Its moves have seriously infringed upon the legitimate rights of others to develop, undermined the international economic and trade order and world trade rules, and threatened the stability of the global industrial and supply chains.

Every country has its national security concerns, but these concerns must be legitimate and reasonable. The concept must not be politicized and securitized, or be used to suppress and contain other countries' development.

In recent years, the U.S. has overstretched the concept of "national security" to encompass almost anything in order to contain and suppress China.

Last August, the White House signed an executive order on setting up a screening mechanism on outbound investments and restricting U.S. entities' investments in the semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technologies, and AI sectors in China.

Recently, The U.S. Department of Commerce announced it would investigate the supply chains of the U.S. semiconductor and national defense industries to assess their level of dependence on Chinese chips, again using the excuse of the so-called "national security" risks.

Some American politicians even hyped up Chinese-made port lifting equipment and Chinese video applications, which are popular among Americans, as threats to their "national security." These practices are typical examples of pan-politicization and pan-securitization.

In the eyes of some U.S. politicians, "national security" has become a catch-all excuse for unreasonable and brutal suppression of foreign companies. In recent years, the U.S. has continuously politicized, instrumentalized, and weaponized economic, trade, and technological issues under the guise of "national security," resorting to all means to suppress Chinese companies and restrict normal economic and trade cooperation between its domestic companies and China.

Such an approach essentially aims to promote de-globalization and "de-Sinicization," creating a chilling effect in economic and trade cooperation and serving its purpose of pushing for "decoupling and breaking the chain."

The U.S. has forcefully labeled other countries' companies as "national security risks," using it as an excuse for the so-called "de-risking" narrative, which has posed serious risks to international economic and trade cooperation as well as the stability of the global industrial and supply chains.

In fact, the risk that the world needs to get rid of the most is confrontation and rivalry caused by pan-politicization, and the dependence that needs to be reduced the most is the act of returning to protectionism.

The U.S. overstretching the concept of national security is a complete departure from the principles of market economy and fair competition that it has long claimed to champion.

When it comes to pursuing global hegemony, coercing other nations, and disregarding international norms in the early 21st century, the United States is the country that comes to mind, said a U.S. media outlet.

The principles of market competition and international trade rules, which the U.S. claimed to advocate, are only followed when they are beneficial to the U.S. American politicians may talk about fair competition, but deep down they believe in "America First" and wield the "sanctions stick."

The Chinese chip and AI companies that have been included in the discriminatory lists by the U.S. are all key players in high-tech industries. These industries are exactly the areas where American politicians have repeatedly claimed to win the competition against China.

The deliberate designation of various discriminatory lists by the U.S. and the inclusion of Chinese companies are aimed at using state power to suppress Chinese enterprises, create obstacles to China's technological innovation, hinder China's high-quality development, and deprive the Chinese people of their right to development. This action violates international trade rules and is inconsistent with the principle of fair competition.

Recently, a U.S. senator repeatedly questioned a company executive in the hearing whether the executive has Chinese nationality. It has exposed that the so-called "threats to national security" claimed by the U.S. side are false, while containing and suppressing China is the real motive.

Some American politicians always see China as the primary competitor and the most significant geopolitical challenge. According to their logic, the U.S. can develop advanced semiconductor, quantum information technology, and AI, while China's development of advanced technology and innovation is seen as a "security threat."

They believe that the U.S. can only talk about fair competition only when it maintains its leading position, and that China's potential threat to its lead is a "security threat." This is undeniably a hegemonic logic and double standard.

The U.S. side must correct all discriminatory practices and provide a fair, just, and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese businesses. It should do more to promote mutual trust and cooperation between the two sides, and engage in actions that benefit global economic and trade exchanges and cooperation.

Efforts, implied or explicit, to shape or change China over several decades did not succeed, said a senior U.S. official, adding the two countries must find a way to co-exist in competition.

For China and the U.S., turning their back on each other is not an option. It is unrealistic for one side to remodel the other. The U.S. should engage in more rational thinking, and refrain from using aggressive and unreasonable measures to suppress.

The U.S. has publicly promised that it has no intention to seek decoupling from China or halt China's economic development. It should demonstrate sincerity and take action to stop politicizing, instrumentalizing, and weaponizing economic, trade, and technological issues, so as to create a favorable environment for normal economic and trade cooperation between China and the U.S.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People's Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Hongyu)


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