China’s great firewall should be a US trade target – Community News
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China’s great firewall should be a US trade target

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping finally held their much-anticipated virtual summit on Monday. After the meeting, designed to normalize relations and create barriers to competition, competition and cooperation between the two world powers, US-China trade talks are likely to resume soon. In her recent speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai laid out a new trajectory for the Biden administration’s trade policy.

Tai rightly pointed out that China’s state-oriented, non-market-oriented trade practices were not addressed in the Phase One agreement, a trade deal signed by the Trump administration with China in January 2020, stating that it intends to raise these broader policy issues with Beijing. She vowed to “use the full array of tools we have…to defend American economic interests against harmful policies and practices.”

But there’s one major unfair practice that stands out that the Phase One deal failed to address: the Chinese internet market. Opening up China’s internet should be a core part of the Biden government’s new approach to its trade relationship with China. Currently, the Chinese internet market combines bad business practices, the encroachment of American interests and human rights violations. The United States has some leverage to change that and should use it.

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping finally held their much-anticipated virtual summit on Monday. After the meeting, designed to normalize relations and create barriers to competition, competition and cooperation between the two world powers, US-China trade talks are likely to resume soon. In her recent speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai laid out a new trajectory for the Biden administration’s trade policy.

Tai rightly pointed out that China’s state-oriented, non-market-oriented trade practices were not addressed in the Phase One agreement, a trade deal signed by the Trump administration with China in January 2020, stating that it intends to raise these broader policy issues with Beijing. She vowed to “use the full array of tools we have…to defend American economic interests against harmful policies and practices.”

But there’s one major unfair practice that stands out that the Phase One deal failed to address: the Chinese internet market. Opening up China’s internet should be a core part of the Biden government’s new approach to its trade relationship with China. Currently, the Chinese internet market combines bad business practices, the encroachment of American interests and human rights violations. The United States has some leverage to change that and should use it.

China’s closed internet market is a long-standing non-tariff barrier to trade. As far back as 2011, the Obama administration urged China to explain why its Great Firewall blocked American companies from offering their online services to customers and businesses — in violation of international trading standards. In 2016, the annual National Trade Estimate Report cited China’s Great Firewall as a trade barrier, arguing that China’s indiscriminate blocking of foreign websites over the past decade had “posed a significant burden on foreign suppliers, harming Internet sites themselves and users alike.” … who often depend on them for their business.” Today, such unfair practices have only gotten worse.

Although Beijing exercises strict control over the ideological and political content of the Internet, it has cited “national security” as a pretext to protect China’s Internet market and block “unwanted” websites, including those of its US competitors. This makes it impossible for US internet companies to enter the Chinese market as equals, creating a de facto ban on US companies such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and many others. Some US-based websites have been given limited access to the Chinese market, but only after agreeing to China’s demands, such as providing a full back door to their technology.

Under the protectionist trade policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China’s digital economy has experienced massive growth over the past decade. According to a 2017 report by the McKinsey Global Institute, China accounted for less than 1 percent of global e-commerce transactions in 2005, but in 2016 China was clearly the largest e-commerce market in the world, accounting for 42 percent of global transactions. By comparison, the United States’ share of global transactions fell from 35 percent to 24 percent over the same period. In 2020, the estimated value of China’s digital economy reached 41 trillion yuan ($6.33 trillion), contributing to a widening US trade deficit as imports from China continue to rise. Such an imbalance harms American workers and the American economy.

Meanwhile, Chinese internet companies have benefited immensely from the free and open US market. Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu have all been given free and unrestricted access to US markets, including capital markets. In 2018, 33 Chinese companies (mostly technology companies) held IPOs in the United States, raising more than $9 billion in capital. China refuses to grant the United States any meaningful reciprocity on the Internet. This unfair trade practice has wreaked havoc on US businesses and US workers, as well as consumers in China. It must be stopped.

The internet has changed the way people shop, work, access information and communicate with each other. Opening up the Chinese Internet market would not only provide U.S. Internet companies with countless economic opportunities, but would also provide a much-needed political space for China’s civil society. The greatest advantage of the liberal world order over China lies in the free flow of information, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and free markets – and a freer Chinese internet market would certainly enhance and amplify this. We realize the Biden administration is shying away from intending to change China — for example, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a recent CNN interview that the Biden administration’s goal was “not to fundamentally transform China.” self” – the approach we are proposing does not even require an end to domestic censorship in China, but rather a level playing field for foreign ideas.

Beijing fully understands the Internet’s double-edged sword and sees the suppression of Internet freedom as the key to the CCP’s eternal rule over the Chinese people. At a 2019 Politburo study session, Xi reiterated the importance of the CCP’s firm control over the Internet. He warned executives that without “securing” the internet, the CCP “will not be able to stay in power for long.”

But Xi wants the CCP to win this invisible war on “the battlefield without gun smoke,” so totalitarian China is using its massive state apparatus to censor, block and limit the ability of Chinese citizens to obtain or share information and opinions. According to a 2020 project by a team of researchers from four US and Canadian universities, China’s Great Firewall currently blocks 311,000 domains, preventing users from accessing banned websites from within the country. China’s massive censorship apparatus also uses the latest and most advanced techniques to eradicate banned content, phrases and words.

At the same time, the CCP’s propaganda machine is spreading fake news and spreading pernicious lies to fuel domestic ultra-nationalism and global hatred of the United States. The most recent of these is the utterly false claim that COVID-19 originated in alleged experiments in the United States, rather than in China — a belief that has won few fans abroad but is widespread in China.

China is not satisfied with just checking information within its own borders. Under the CCP’s “Internet Sovereignty” policy, China uses technology to censor content on foreign websites, including frequent attacks on US-based websites for content it dislikes. China is also exporting its digital dictatorship to undermine democracies around the world.

The United States must make opening the Chinese Internet market a top priority. In future negotiations with China, the United States should describe the issue as one of unfair trade practices that the Phase One agreement has not addressed. Washington must mobilize socio-political and financial resources and form a coalition of relevant US stakeholders — including within government, civil society and the business and tech communities — to tear down China’s Great Firewall. It is equally vital that the United States work with its allies to counter China on this crucial issue, which affects the interests of all democracies.

As Tai told Congress in May, “We will not hesitate to denounce China’s coercive and unfair trade practices that harm American workers. [and] violate basic human rights.” Now is the time to call China on its closed internet market. And if China refuses to respond, the United States and its allies should not hesitate to deny Beijing access to their own markets.

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Rakesh

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