The Escalation of Nationalist One-Upmanship

In his fight for American supremacy, Donald Trump listens only to his own instincts. While Mexico and Canada prepare to sign a free trade agreement, he raises, in extremis, a new threat: imposing progressive taxes on Mexican imports. At the same time, in a European tour, his right hand man, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, just warned the British and the Germans of a unilateral technological veto. The United States will no longer collaborate with them if they allow Huawei’s Chinese technology in the rollout of their 5G networks. The message is clear. Trump will not allow any form of disobedience with respect to his ambitions.

What will be Europe’s response? China itself has just responded with an ultrasensitive weapon for the “tech” giant. Beijing will release its own list of “unreliable” foreign companies operating in its territory. This is a classic and dangerous escalation. In this way, not recognized by international law, the Middle Empire will be able to eliminate Western competitors. In this little game, protectionism can show up in many forms, breaking with the tradition of competition based on common or negotiated rules. Until now, the financial markets have only trembled. With the escalation that is taking shape, the major trading powers risk a head-on confrontation, one with very severe consequences. If at first glance the United States starts with an advantage, history has amply demonstrated that in the end, the consumers and workers will be the victims of a closing world. Commercial nationalism is the strongest weapon. It is highly flammable and generally burns everything it touches. The multipolar world of the 21st century is at risk of succumbing to a form of anarchy and one-upmanship that some are calling the new cold war.

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