The US and China are engaged in a bitter fight over Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant. The US has blocked Huawei from its markets and is restricting its access to US technologies and suppliers that have helped it become one of the great world companies. China has responded by threatening to introduce measures against US companies in retaliation, and accelerating its domestic program to build sophisticated semiconductors to ensure that its companies cannot be blackmailed or crippled in the future. On the surface, this seems like another fight over trade. Yet it goes much deeper, and is a sign of a stark transformation in global politics. America’s problems with Huawei have little to do with US President Donald Trump’s obsession with the terms of trade. Long before Trump was elected, US officials were warning about Huawei, and trying to frustrate its rise.1 Indeed, Trump’s single-minded view of trade as the problem may lead him to swap a more free rein on Huawei for other concessions, frustrating his own national security officials.
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