We are republishing this article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Danny Haiphong, which originally appeared on Covert Action Magazine on 5 June 2021.
A new report published in Railway Age magazine and written by the Information Technology Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has sounded the alarm about China’s growing high-speed rail sector. The report comes amid escalations in the U.S.’s New Cold War against China, of which technology is a key component.
China is by far the world leader in high-speed rail investment and development, sporting more than 35,000 kilometers (21,700 miles) of high-speed rail, or 68 percent of the world’s total. The ITIF itself admits to China’s rapid success in this sector since its first high-speed rail line was completed in 2008:
Since then, China has opened thousands of kilometers of high-speed lines with speeds ranging from 200 to 350 kph. To do this, China spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the world’s most expensive public-works project since President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System of the 1950s.
The United States might learn from China’s success in investing in high-speed rail and try and emulate it; however, according to the ITIF, China’s high-speed rail policies damage “innovation” by privileging domestic market development and state-owned enterprises over the interests of private, foreign firms primarily residing in the West. China is accused of employing a form of “mercantilism” to manipulate the global market at the expense of the superior capabilities of Western, Japanese, and American investors.
The term “mercantilism” has been used by big business interests in the U.S. and West to portray China’s policy of indigenous development as a high crime against the free market. In fact, the ITIF has been sounding the alarm about China’s prioritization of its own tech sector since 2013.
It lamented that China was no longer keeping its promise “to be a low-cost production platform for foreign multinational corporations (MNCs).” As if the Chinese government’s function was to serve the latter’s needs and not that of its own people.
The ITIF’s latest report focusing on China’s high-speed rail sector comes amid escalating U.S. attacks on China’s tech sector. Most associate this “tech war” with the Trump administration’s sanctions on China’s Huawei Corporation and social media apps such as WeChat and TikTok. However, the Biden administration and its allies have been just as aggressive in their attempts to forestall China’s technological development.
Biden has proclaimed that the U.S. is in a battle against China to “win the 21st century” and has expanded the list of Chinese telecommunications and supercomputing companies on the U.S.’s blacklist. In a recent speech to the UK-funded Chatham House, neo-con hawk and twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton passionately claimed that the U.S. is at “the mercy of China” and demanded that the U.S. “take back the means of production.”
The U.S. war on China’s tech sector therefore shares widespread bipartisan support. As this analysis will demonstrate, far from calling for more public investment in the needs of an increasingly destitute U.S. workforce, the ITIF’s new warnings about China’s high-speed rail sector reveal how powerful economic interests are pushing for a new Cold War with China alongside the perpetuation of neoliberal economic policies that prioritize the interests of multi-national corporations.
Continue reading Off the Rails: New Report by Corporate-Funded Think-Tank Reveals How Profit-Driven Motives Drive New Cold War against China