Stakes Are Huge as US Battles Russia and China



The US is currently in conflict with Russia, and the confrontation is an obvious one playing out on the battlefields of Ukraine with American weapons. But Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times that the US is simultaneously in a less obvious conflict with China—though the stakes are just as significant, if not more so. The confrontation with Beijing is over semiconductors, “the foundational technology of the information age,” writes Friedman. The nation (or alliance of nations) that makes the best chips will have an enormous advantage over its rivals, and China is determined to close the current gap that exists between itself and the US. That’s the main reason the US imposed strict new export rules last week designed to prevent Western technology from falling into the hands of the Chinese military. (Friedman details the rules, and China’s angry reaction.)

The idea of fighting Russia and China at the same time is one that the likes of Henry Kissinger have long warned against, notes Friedman. He writes, however, that “there is a strong case in the national interest for confronting both today.” Still, these are “uncharted waters,” and Friedman acknowledges that neither he nor anyone else can predict how things will turn out. “But if we are now locked on a path of denying China advanced technologies forever—eliminating any hope of win-win collaborations with Beijing on issues like climate and cybercrime, where we face mutual threats and are the only two powers that can make a difference—what kind of world will that produce?” he wonders. “China should be asking the same questions.” (Read the full essay.)

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