Jake Sullivan is not sentimental, preferring geopolitics. It hardly dwells on the values that America claims to promote, but actualizes its strategic interests. Joe Biden’s national security adviser is the true ideologue of the current administration. The one who is capable, at regular intervals, of restoring depth and clarity to the international action of the United States. Highly disciplined, the counselor can tackle many topics without stumbling, but his skyline is monochromatic – the red of the Chinese flag.
In a lecture to the Brookings Institution think tank on April 27, Jake Sullivan defended the idea of a “new consensus”, after the West pursued a liberal chimera for decades, that of a virtuous flow of wealth, of shared prosperity between continents thanks to globalization. This “new consensus” – inspired both by deindustrialization in the West to the benefit of China and emerging powers, the financial crisis, the pandemic and the climate emergency – marks the great return of the strategist state. It is reinvesting massively in infrastructure, identifying key sectors for the future and diversifying supply chains. In this strategy, Washington intends to define fundamental technologies and protect them “with a small yard and a high fence”as Jake Sullivan puts it.
Here are the bases of the current competition between the United States and China. It is fierce in research in artificial intelligence, quantum physics, biotechnology. This is not just an economic issue: many of these innovations can be militarized. This competition therefore also concerns, for the Biden administration, national security, justifying unprecedented measures. This is the end of cautious optimism in the bilateral relationship. Make way for portcullises and dikes, for an assumed systemic rivalry, which is the subject of a consensus between Republicans and Democrats.
Joe Biden widens the offensive launched by Donald Trump with the increase in customs tariffs. In October 2022, the White House announced dramatic restrictions on the export of semiconductors. Surprisingly, Beijing reacted in a much more measured way than after the visit to Taiwan by the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, in the summer of 2022. We will see if this moderation will be preserved when Washington reveals soon, according to the site Politico, unprecedented limitations on American investments in China, in sensitive sectors. Finally, a ban on the TikTok application, under Chinese control, is still being considered.
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