“With Joe Biden, we should not discount a major shift in American policy”

Tribune. The election of Joe Biden as President of the United States clearly presents a series of opportunities for Europeans, eager to end a Donald Trump who has unraveled international institutions and multilateralism, then broken the chains technological procurement. Among the key issues awaiting the new president is the digital issue.

Placed at the heart of the Sino-American rivalry, the digital transition structures international political and economic life. Under the presidency of Donald Trump, the United States has pursued a policy of “exceptionalism” in this area at all costs, regardless of the diplomatic cost of unilateral actions. Often driven by a desire to carry the slogan of the“America first” This was the case with the restrictions on immigration – which were hostilely felt in Silicon Valley – and the series of protectionist measures and announcements of job relocations.

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The assumed choice of a standoff with Chinese Huawei symbolizes this withdrawal, motivated by two other ingredients: America’s fear of losing global technological leadership to China, and the resulting intensification of a uninhibited balance of power with Xi Xinping [le pr√©sident chinois]. As a result of an aggressive policy vis-√†-vis Beijing, the United States mechanically favored the acceleration by China of a process of qualitative technological self-sufficiency, now set up as a strategic priority by the Chinese leadership.

Repeated friction

With the 46e President of the United States, however, we should not expect a major shift in American policy, despite the hoped-for style changes.

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In the first place, Joe Biden will not reverse the course of the relationship with China. Competition with Beijing has been at the forefront of American concerns since Barack Obama’s first term (2008-2012). Then vice-president, Joe Biden had been at the forefront of repeated friction between Washington and Beijing on the grounds of cyber espionage and theft of intellectual property by Chinese hackers, then appeasement efforts which culminated with the signing, in 2015, of a mutual non-aggression agreement in cyberspace … which has fizzled out.

Since 2018, the noticeable hardening against Chinese technological ancestry has remained a fundamental trend in Washington politics, beyond partisan divides. Joe Biden will keep the same body of doctrine on China – coercion via sanctions – while making a change in method. It is therefore very likely that the sanctions against Huawei will continue, without overbidding or outrageous staging. However, a loosening of the American grip on certain Chinese technological players is possible: in the strategic semiconductor sector, Trump’s anti-Huawei decrees had thus had a severe impact on American industry.

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