U.S.-EU cooperation essential to stop China in race for advanced technology

The United States and the European Union have embarked on high-level talks on the issue of advanced technology. It is vital to promote effective cooperation in order to prevent China from attaining economic hegemony.

U.S. President Joe Biden, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had a summit meeting at which they decided to create a Trade and Technology Council.

The new council will be comprised of the secretary of state, commerce secretary and U.S. trade representative from the U.S. side, and two executive vice presidents — one in charge of competition and the other of trade — from the EU. Working groups will also be established.

With such a top-level lineup, it can be said that the United States and EU are aiming to restore bilateral relations that deteriorated during the previous U.S. administration of President Donald Trump.

The council will examine international rules and standards related to advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology. In light of the current global shortage of semiconductors, it will also discuss expanding the resiliency of supply chains and a mechanism to prevent technology outflow.

Behind the establishment of the council is Washington’s strong sense of caution it harbors toward Beijing.

China has achieved rapid growth under state-run capitalism, in which the Communist government controls all economic activity. It has invested heavily in state-owned enterprises and is forcibly absorbing other countries’ technology in a bid to take the lead in the battle for advanced technology.

If the AI surveillance system developed by China spreads to other countries, it will worsen the global human rights situation. The Chinese model is unacceptable.

Democratic countries such as Japan, the United States and those in Europe have built a thriving global economy through free enterprise based on rules. Even as technological innovation continues to advance, international norms that place importance on universal values such as the rule of law and human rights must be maintained.

On the other hand, China is the world’s second largest economy after the United States and has a massive market. It cannot be denied that the nature of economic relations with China differ between countries.

At the end of last year, the EU reached an agreement with China to conclude an investment accord. Germany, which is eager to strengthen economic relations with China, is regarded as providing the main impetus.

Later, the European Parliament suspended the ratification process of the accord after China took countermeasures in response to sanctions imposed by EU for China’s suppression of human rights in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. There is no prospect of the accord being implemented.

Considering China’s problematic behavior in recent years, the conclusion of such an accord would have been premature. The U.S. side has also shown a critical stance over the EU’s move.

The EU needs to deal with China while exchanging information and holding close discussions with the United States.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on June 28, 2021.