EU-China conflict: Protecting vital technology from Beijing

EU may restrict tech exports to China. EU cautious due to pandemic supply chain chaos and Ukraine war’s energy crisis. But getting all EU member states to agree to taking a tougher stand on Beijing is far from given.

EU-China rivalry: Protecting sensitive tech from Beijing
European Commission’s Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis and Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng attend a joint press conference following the 10th China-EU High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China on September 25, 2023

The European Commission has drawn up a list of sensitive technologies to be precisely scanned for the pitfalls they pose in rival hands, basically those of China, according to judges, although EU officers claimed they weren’t concerned about any particular country.

” Technology is presently at the heart of geopolitical competition,” European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said Tuesday at a press conference in the French megacity Strasbourg.” The EU wants to be a player and not a playground. And to be a player we need a united EU position, grounded on a common assessment of the pitfalls.”

In the wake of epidemic- convinced force chain chaos and the energy extremity following Russia’s war in Ukraine, the EU has come much more cautious of dependences . For illustration, its former reliance on Moscow for natural gas and continued need for China’s critical minerals, key for clean energy tech.

As a result, the bloc is developing a strategy this time to guarantee its” profitable security.” Tuesday’s advertisement is part of this. It also follows a range of analogous way taken by the US, in its approach to Beijing in particular.

While the EU administrative branch was at great pains not to single out or indeed mention China on Tuesday, the advertisement easily aligns with a broader strategy of”de-risking” relations with Beijing and others, as espoused by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, experts told DW.

What has the European Commission proposed?
For now, all the European Commission has done is identify four main sensitive technology areas advanced semiconductors, artificial intelligence, amount computing, and biotechnology.

The coming step is to consult EU member states over the coming months and also decide what measures to take coming time. This could mean import controls. But it may not.

EU officers briefing journalists in Brussels on condition of obscurity stressed that these measures might not be about confining deals in the end. It could also be about adding investment in the EU, one functionary said, or indeed partnering with others to reduce dependences .

What is so parlous about this technology?
The EU administrative branch named the threat areas on the base of three criteria its general transformative power, that is, how important change it could lead to, its eventuality for military use and whether it could be involved in mortal rights contraventions.

Agathe Demarais, an critic from the European Council on Foreign Relations, told DW that it was veritably clear that the orders chosen were targeting pitfalls from China.

originally,” semiconductors have binary use operations for both mercenary purposes, iPhones, and military purposes, dumdums,” she said.

” The EU and the US are veritably conservative about doing anything that would help China advance the capabilities of its service,” Demarais said, pointing to raising pressures between Beijing and the islet of Taiwan.

Secondly, the EU’s enterprises over artificial intelligence technology also relate to the protection of civil liberties, Demarais said. China has used facial recognition to track dissentients. The EU is presently in the process of negotiating the world’s first law regulating AI, with the mass use of biometric recognition at a distance one of the most contentious aspects of the debate.

Third, the development of amount computers, which are briskly and more important than ordinary computers, has military counteraccusations , the critic said. Quantum computers may be suitable to break the encryption styles used online for everything from private dispatches to banking. However, say, US dispatches or military dispatches,” If you break the encryption of.

Eventually, biotechnology is used extensively in medical wisdom but also raises civil liberties enterprises, Demarais said.” It has huge counteraccusations , for case, if China has access to DNA databases,” she noted. There are also enterprises about the development of artillery using biotechnology.

structure EU agreement isn’t easy?
The EU is still a long way from actually taking action. John Lee, director of consultancy East West Futures, told DW he allowed
the end- of- time thing to finish common threat assessments sounded largely ambitious.

In Lee’s opinion, the European Commission also seems to have heeded to actors who preferred” positive measures similar as assiduity backing rather than negative measures similar as import control.”

For Demarais of the ECFR, the big issue is whether EU countries can agree on how tough to get. Indeed the compass of the list published on Tuesday was narrower than she had anticipated and not as extensive as analogous enterprise in the US, she said. Washington assessed restrictions on exports of advanced, AI- enabling semiconductors to China last time.

” Thede-risking converse has created divisions among EU member countries. specially, Germany’s frugality is far more exposed to China than other European husbandry,” Demarais said.

” German exports of goods and services to China regard for further than 3 of German GDP, the loftiest rate in the EU and double the situations in France, Italy and Spain,” Demarais said.” Meanwhile, eastern European countries have long been hawkish on China, which was farther solidified by Beijing’s implicit support for Moscow’s irruption of Ukraine.”

In Beijing, the new list will probably be read as a farther sign of the EU trying to part itself from China, she said.” I suppose they are upset about the environment of broader pressures with Western countries because Western countries are crucial import requests( for China).”

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