With the end of the cold war, it looked as if globalisation had tamed power politics and heralded a more peaceful world. The networks that distributed money, information and production seemed to resist state control. Economic conflict appeared irrational: attacking a rival would hurt your economy as well. That’s not quite how it turned out, as US President Donald Trump’s recent tweets about forcing American businesses to leave China make clear. We are at the beginning of a new “quiet war”, where the global networks that were supposed to tie countries together have become a distributed and complex battlefield. Great powers such as the US and China are wielding supply chains as weapons in their grand disputes, while smaller states such as Japan and South Korea copy their tactics. Businesses like FedEx, Huawei and Samsung are pawns on the battlefield or collateral damage.
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