The United States is getting nervous about China’s development and has deeper motives for targeting Chinese imports and high-tech firms, a Cambridge University expert has said.
“I am opposed to the American position 100 percent,” Professor Alan Barrell said in a recent interview, when commenting on the ongoing U.S.-China trade tensions initiated by Washington last year with slapping additional tariffs on Chinese goods.
“I don’t agree with trade wars, and I know they are never won,” he said. “I have strong feelings about this.”
Meanwhile, he said he does not believe the current tensions between the United States and China are about trade. “The issues and the problem are bigger it is all about geopolitics,” he added.
In a similar fashion, what prompted the U.S. sanctions against world-leading telecom giant Huawei and other Chinese high-tech companies went beyond the alledged espionage concerns, according to the Cambridge professor.
“In telecommunications, the real argument is not about whether Huawei technology will employ ‘bugs’ dangerous to Western interests, but about the Shenzhen company’s superiority in 5G and other technologies, and the fear that the U.S. has now become No. 2 or even 3 in this key area of technology development,” said Barrell.
“Issues of cybersecurity extend far beyond simple issues of who makes and supplies the hardware,” he added.
The scholar noted that as China emerges in trade, technology and economy, U.S. President Donald Trump stresses “America First” and encourages his country to look inward.
“The growth of China makes America very nervous. And Trump and America try to turn the rest of the West against China,” he said.
Emphasising that the world should have “so much opportunity for us all to work together for the good of all people,” Barrell said he is distressed by what the United States has done on China and Huawei.
“It is a difficult time in world history,” with some politicians having “de-camped into ‘silos'” determined by what they believe in, said the professor.
“Citizens of the world in both East and West are essentially now held to ransom,” said Barrell. “The real issue is geopolitics and the progress of China as a future science, technology and economic leader.”
Citing the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative as yet another example, he added, “Why is … such a courageous initiative so cynically regarded in the West? Fear and concern about loss of control and profitable exploitation might have a lot to do with such attitudes.”
As regards China, Barrell praised the Asian country’s efforts in boosting global collaboration. “China, in many public pronouncements of its leaders and in actions, appears to be sincere in leading processes of internationalisation and global collaboration,” he said.
In particular, the scholar said Cambridge welcomes the great investments and contributions from Huawei. “They have European headquarters for R&D in Cambridge, Europe’s R&D capital,” he noted. “And they just announced they bought a site … to build a new factory here.”
“Cambridge is delighted! Open Innovation and collaboration are watchwords here,” added the professor.
Noting that “others in the global power domain take differing views” on China’s development, Barrell urged people around the world to make a choice.
“We can be sure that the balance of power in the world between East and West will not be returning to historical positioning,” he said. “Can we become ‘One World,’ or be adversely divided? Citizens of the world must decide.”