Trade war and China’s latest attempts at upgrading
in Imperialism and the development myth
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The starting point for Chinese technological development is essentially the same as for any other Third World society – relative scientific underdevelopment in most areas compared to the rich, imperialist countries. Lack of basic research and scientific knowledge (at least outside of the military sphere) is proving to be an insurmountable obstacle to Chinese attempts to upgrade the technological level of its production processes. Even designated priority areas, such as the Chinese-built midsize passenger airliner, the C919, demonstrate the extreme limitations and dependency of Chinese high-technology production. The so-called trade war has also shone a light on severe Chinese weakness in what is perhaps the key strategic technology today – microchips. While China produces some microchips domestically, these are not the high-end chips needed to manufacture advanced products, such as Huawei’s top-shelf phones or top-of-the-line 5G telecommunications infrastructure. The trade war has further uncovered China’s inability to respond to US aggression with any technology bans of its own – as might be expected if China were the rising technological power house that so many commentators appear to believe. The historical transition from British hegemony to German power and then US hegemony was associated with the independent development in those countries of revolutionary new technological advances. There appears to be no such technological leadership associated with contemporary China despite for several decades now being the largest producer of and market for many important goods and services.

Imperialism and the development myth

How rich countries dominate in the twenty-first century

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