*Editor’s note: On March 4, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.
Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is about to become the U.S. House of Representatives speaker, has had a great start in his all-but-secured role. He promised that once elected as speaker, he would form a select committee on China, which he branded the “No. 1 country when it comes to intellectual property theft.” That statement, above all, relates to the theft of technology upon which the future world leadership of either the U.S. or China depends.
Blaming “thieves” as an excuse for all troubles is as old as the world itself. And this excuse is definitely as deceitful and disgraceful as the American idea that the Chinese will soon take over Siberia and the Far East. But, of course, even if you can’t steal, you actually can if you really want to -— and not only from the Americans. Furthermore, if the object in question isn’t well-protected, you have even more reason to steal it. But this raises further questions. What is there to steal? Where exactly is it? Will there be anything else to steal after that?
A retired American, Gen. Robert Spalding, published a book on this exact subject and gave an interview to the Heritage Foundation website. The book, “Stealth War: How China Took Over While America’s Elite Slept,” is about technology, specifically how America gave up the world’s technological leadership to China. It has also just been made into a documentary called “Innovation Race.” So Gen. Spalding is undoubtedly an expert on this issue.
And unsurprisingly, he concludes that it is all Barack Obama’s fault. According to Gen. Spalding, Obama, via his 2011 America COMPETES Act, destroyed a 240-year history of American protection of intellectual property rights. Although, if you look closely, things were going badly even before Obama.
Namely, in 1991, at the end of the Cold War, America was spending up to 2% of its gross domestic product on technological innovation. Now it spends 0.7%. The U.S. infrastructure has become third rate, with global supply chains almost entirely taken over by China. Moreover, most of America’s talented researchers are now recruited from abroad, including from China. Meanwhile, China has been doing the opposite — it has stepped up funding and has begun to protect inventors’ intellectual property rights. Now all potential to create new technologies has shifted toward the East.
Gen. Spalding didn’t hold back when discussing Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan. This program has become the primary signal to the U.S. elite that America’s world leadership is slipping away. Of course, three years remain before the plan is implemented. However, Gen. Spalding says the issue is far from only about keeping China from the advanced semiconductors market. Indeed, Beijing is further ahead in developing artificial intelligence programs and quantum technology.
There are many other concerns for the U.S. For instance, according to the latest news, China has mounted a new artificial sun, the largest in the world. In fact, it is 10 times hotter than the sun. The work on this experimental thermonuclear fusion reactor has been carried out jointly by several countries (including Russia) since 2006. While it’s hard to say whether this invention is supposed to power the Chinese lunar research station, experts certainly suggest so.
Now, going back to the comprehensive plans of the future speaker of the House. The select committee is unlikely to propose any new initiatives. And if it does, it will take years to restore U.S. technological leadership. Moreover, in the meantime, the competitors won’t be idle. In other words, a very long-term objective is being considered. Gen. Spalding is approaching it from a military perspective by suggesting taking away the rights of businesses to make decisions in this area and concentrating all control over technological advancement in the hands of the government, specifically the military.
On the whole, however, these decisions are still to be made. But right now, there is an awkward pause. This pause explains a lot about what is happening worldwide. It also directly impacts Russia.
Overall, the situation looks as follows. First, the U.S. deployed its plan A — aiming to gradually strangle China and Russia with sanctions. Moreover, to intensify the process, America found a fantastic reason to impose sanctions. For instance, it sanctioned Russia for the Ukraine conflict and threatened to sanction China over the potential intervention in Taiwan. At the same time, plan A sought to rally the Western coalition against the rivals and draw the whole or nearly the entire world to the side of the U.S.
This fall, it finally became apparent that plan A failed. Instead, it triggered a major economic crisis, especially in the Western countries and their puppets, whether real or those who are pretending to be. So the sanctions have backfired. Furthermore, several high-level international summits, for instance, the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia, have revealed the developing world’s wide-ranging discontent with the West, as well as dithering and grumbling among the U.S.’ closest allies.
However, there is no plan B. So now the question is about the need for a pause in anticipation of such a plan in order to prevent a destructive military conflict. As far as Russia is concerned, noticeably, until recently, there was only talk about prolonging the conflict in Ukraine for as long as possible. Now, however, negotiations are the preferred option. But decisions have yet to be made on the following: what negotiations, about what and with whom?
Regarding the competition between the two superpowers, the U.S. and China, the situation is similar, though only partially. Fundamentally, the idea of avoiding a major conflict seems obvious. Talks on potential negotiations between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden have taken place in Indonesia, and now the prospects will be discussed by the official representatives of both countries. Apart from that, there are many statements from both sides about how the situation should be handled.
For example, in the U.S., sternly-minded Republicans plan to create the previously mentioned select committee (as if there were not enough committees on this topic in all the offices, organizations and so on). From China, there are strong rebuttals. It argues that continued planning by American politicians for a wide-ranging military and economic confrontation raises the question of how serious the U.S. is about avoiding further conflict with China.
As for the U.S.’ attempts to block semiconductor exports to China, studies show that without China, U.S. companies would lose 18% of their global exports and 37% of their revenues by 2025. In that case, America would have to cut back on investing in technological innovation. And we’re only considering semiconductors here.
So, is the U.S. miscalculating again?