Retaliatory action by U.S. against China not entirely unjustified but goes against global trade and market access

Year: 2020

This post is written as a brief comment to an article published on The New York Times titled: Trump Administration to Ban TikTok and WeChat From U.S. App Stores (18 September 2020).

“While an arbitrary ban on WeChat and TikTok, and earlier on Huawei, will increase tensions between the US and China, it is important to note context.

First, China was the first country to ban apps from the other. Facebook, Google and YouTube have been banned for over a decade.

It too cited national security concerns. However, its real motivations were to control the social and search media platforms and to buy time to allow its homegrown companies to grow and become competitive.

Second, the US permitted Chinese internet companies such as Alibaba to IPO on Wall Street but China has refused to reciprocate for US internet companies on the Shanghai stock exchange.

Thus Trump’s retaliatory actions, albeit arbitrary and erratic, have a degree of justification on the basis of moral equivalency. But this goes against the tradition of the US setting the ‘better man’ global example in championing global trade and permitting access to its markets. Trump has set the US on a new aggressive and divisive path which abdicates its global leadership and example as a global good actor.

It will also lead to a Balkanisation of technology which will increase costs to enterprises and will conflate technology choices with geopolitics for nations.

More fuel to the fire of a global recession.”

– Devadas Krishnadas