LONDON – Officials in the European Union, Malaysia and Singapore are skeptical of US efforts to lock China out of the global high-tech trading system, expressing reluctance to join Washington as it works to limit the second largest’s rapid expansion economy into a global technological powerhouse.
Speaking at POLITICO’s Global Tech Day on Thursday, David Koh, chief executive officer of Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency, said his country has grown rich from its open economy and will continue to build ties with China. Lucilla Sioli, a senior official at the European Commission’s DG CONNECT, added that Brussels would continue to work with Beijing, even as some European countries have grown increasingly wary of potential economic dependencies on China.
« For Malaysia, China is an important trading partner, » added Fahmi Fadzil, Malaysia’s digital and communications minister, who also spoke at the event in London. « Malaysia is a neutral country, we adhere to a free market policy. »
The comments come as US officials – both within US President Joe Biden’s administration and in Congress – are urging their global allies to take a more skeptical stance towards Chinese technology. This includes attempts to sideline Beijing within the rapidly growing telecommunications and semiconductor industries, as well as potential limits on how AI is being embedded in societies around the world.
Koh, the Singaporean official, said he has security concerns associated with Beijing. But he said the policy of « risk reduction » — now Washington’s preferred term for its efforts to decouple China from the global trading system, particularly around high-tech industries — was also concerning. « Our concern is that risk reduction, taken too far, affects the current status quo, » he added.
Sioli, the European official, said the 27-country bloc was seeking to reduce its overreliance on tech supply chains, mainly from Asia, which had come under enormous pressure during the recent coronavirus pandemic. But, added the Italian, the EU would maintain some form of relationship with China.
« We want to work with China as an economic powerhouse, » he said.
Brendan Bordelon contributed reporting from Washington.
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