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Trump wants- does it annoy teens? Does he hate lip sync? Washington's threats to TikTok created astonishment especially as their violence contrasts with the good-natured atmosphere of the dance and sketch videos that can be found on the application. But of course it is not the content of the videos that poses a problem for Donald Trump . Nor, whatever his administration may say, only the concern for the privacy of Americans. TikTok n 'is that the latest collateral victim of a vast conflict linked to various factors. The most obvious? The fact that, contrary to forecasts, China is not democratizing one iota, on the contrary.
It continues to ban its soil to many American firms (Facebook, Twitter, Google) in order to censor information while favoring its national champions (Baidu, Tencent, etc. .). Under the guise of the fight againstterrorism, it carries out a terrible repression against the Uyghurs. And in recent months, it has multiplied aggressive actions (drastic restrictions on freedoms in Hong Kong, pressure on Taiwan, etc.).
Of course these are not the only elements which explain the attitude of the US towards China. “It is obvious that Donald Trump has made opposition to China an electoral argument,” explains Jean-François Dufour, director of the DCA China-Analysis cabinet. Americans who vote for him appreciate his warlike posture vis-à-vis Beijing and as the elections approach, he is not shy of exploiting the vein. But we should not believe that the conflict between the two superpowers will subside once the next American president is appointed.
The race for omnipotence
As shown its declarations and plans (Made in China 2025, China Standard 2035, etc.), China wants to become number 1 in many strategic sectors, from artificial intelligence at the 5G , including biotechnologies and electric vehicles. "Ambitions that the United States takes a very negative view" confides Mary-Françoise Renard, head of the Institute for Research on the Economy of China (IDREC).
D ' as much as they have the unpleasant feeling of having been duped. China's rapid development is indeed largely based on the fact that it has been able to access foreign markets and technologies, particularly the US. However, explains Emily Bruyere, China specialist from Horizon Advisory, Beijing is reluctant to reciprocate . “China is showing itself to be quite protective of its resources and its market. This results inone-way technology transfers that allow Beijing to siphon off foreign innovations at low cost with reduced risk ”. Another bone of contention between China and its partners: its system of subsidizing local businesses, accused of fostering unfair competition.
Donald Trump seems in any case determined to put a stop to its exchanges and scrambles to convince allied countries to do the same. Is this really a good idea? Indeed, some experts believe that this strategy will have the opposite effect from that sought and encourage China to develop even faster. Beijing has, it is true, already started the movement and has long sought to strengthen its technologies while reducing its dependence on those of foreign countries. Result: today, China is essential in telecoms equipment and very advanced in high tech sectors such as supercomputers, quantum , renewable energies, lithium batteries ion and of course AI.
Credit Pixabay / Conmongt
It is also increasingly active in the space sector (putting its own into orbit GPS Beidou , exploration of the Moon , etc). The country is also highly integrated into the global economy and would therefore be difficult to isolate. China has thus invested in a new Silk Road, a pharaonic project of maritime and rail links which will facilitate trade within Eurasia. And it has a gigantic domestic market, well-established production sites and an overall fairly qualified workforce (with, among others, many good engineers), “So many advantages to which foreign companies do not. don't want to give up ”analysis Mary-Françoise Renard of IDREC.
Even if the United States maintains the pressure, China could therefore resist well enough to, in the long term, come back to the race strongere than before. But whatever Beijing says, the conflict risks severely hampering its development in the short term. “Western countries remain much more powerful than China both in terms of scientific and technological fundamentals as well as their commercial and industrial application” confides Greg Austin in charge of the Cyber, Space and Future Conflicts program at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS in English).
Beijing is rolling machinery
China may be the factory of the world but it does not compete with the US in the production of complex elements such as aeronautical components. Its universities are far behind American schools in international rankings. And if China has the resources to develop in-house alternatives to certain US software , entrusts the Geo-technology manager of Eurasia, Paul Triolo: “it cannot do it.re for every American technology it uses including semiconductors. It would take him at least ten years ”. The consequences of maintaining US restrictions would therefore be severe. "By being deprived of certain fundamental components, certain very advanced Chinese projects risk finding themselves in the state of empty shells, incapable of functioning", specifies Jean-François Dufour, of DCA Chine-Analyze.
Even if China likes to portray the United States as a country in decline that it is about to dethrone , it actually has a long way to go to reach its level. And nothing says she's getting there. “Beijing has sought to develop the weight and autonomy of its technology sector for more than 10 years, including by recruiting Taiwanese engineers, without succeeding in catching up. The nature of the system, closed to trade and the outside world, is not favorable to certain technological leaps ”explains us.ue Valérie Niquet, head of the Asia division at the foundation for strategic research. If the United States deprives China of access to their technologies, they could well achieve their goal : to relegate it to the sidelines for a long time.