How Biden will strategy the U.S. battle with China over expertise

US President-elect Joe Biden speaks out on the certification of the electoral college on December 14, 2020 at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware.

Roberto Schmidt | AFP | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China – President-elect Joe Biden is unlikely to reverse President Donald Trump’s challenge to China’s tech industry and corporations – but Biden is likely to be more focused and work with allies, experts told CNBC.

During his presidency, Trump tried to challenge China’s tech industry through sanctions, orders and other measures. Biden is likely to continue such a policy.

“The bullet has left the chamber. Trump completely disrupted the status quo that has existed for decades between the US and China,” said Abishur Prakash, geopolitical specialist at the Center for Innovating the Future (CIF), a Toronto-based consultancy. said CNBC via email.

Working with allies

The approach of cutting off China’s tech company could continue under Biden’s presidency.

“I think the The administrator will continue to view technology as the main source of competition and continue some of Trump’s approaches to stop the flow of critical technology into China, “said Adam Segal, director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR ).

“The difference is that the process will be more collaborative with both the private sector and allies, and will focus more on closer technologies,” he told CNBC in an email.

A Biden team’s preference will likely be to control fewer technologies, but put high walls around those that national security deems necessary to protect them.

Paul Triolo, head of geotechnical practice at Eurasia Group’s Risk Advisory Group, agreed that the Biden administration will work with allies on its strategy for Chinese technology.

Triolo told the CNBC Biden team that it would “clarify what should be controlled in the areas of emerging and basic technologies”. Some of these areas include artificial intelligence and so-called quantum computing, the next generation of computing, which uses quantum physics to solve problems that existing computers take years to solve.

“Here, a Biden team’s preference will likely be to control fewer technologies, but put high walls around those that national security deems necessary to protect them,” Triolo said in an email . “Also, I would expect that the definition of which technologies are vital to control for reasons of national security is much clearer under a Biden administration than it was in the Trump years.”

According to Prakash, Biden is likely to continue Trump’s drive to ban Chinese providers of next-generation 5G cellular networks around the world. The Trump administration has urged allies to remove Huawei from its networks. Australia, Japan and the UK have done this effectively.

The geopolitical specialist said Biden could also “recalibrate” himself in areas like blacklisting Chinese companies or certain export controls, while also looking for innovations in his approach to other areas like data rules for mergers and acquisitions.

One thing is certain – the tech battle between the US and China will continue under the Biden presidency.

“The US doesn’t have too many options. Either it allows China to dominate the world through technology or it challenges it,” Prakash said.

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