Navigating Western Perceptions of Insecurity: Unraveling Chinese Technological Prowess Through a Post-structural Lens

In the contemporary landscape of international relations, heightened concerns have emerged within the Western world regarding China’s extensive engagement in the establishment of an outward-reaching internet-data surveillance network, marked by the exclusion of Western popular social engagement platforms such as Twitter, Facebook. Extensive research conducted by The Washington Post, encompassing a thorough examination of Chinese bidding documents, contracts, and company filings, reveals a deliberate endeavor by the Chinese government to equip its agencies, military, and police with comprehensive information on foreign targets.  This revelation presents a compelling and imperative subject of investigation, shedding light on the intricate dynamics of modern-day information control. In line with the preceding source, it is evident that China has implemented a comprehensive government data surveillance network, commonly referred to as public opinion analysis software, which serves as an alert system for officials regarding politically sensitive information present on the internet. This insecurity of the Western media and scholars are a sign of their losing control of the biggest economy of the world. The dominant power always tries to keep every other state under their own surveillance, which the Chinese have been successfully ignoring to establish their (China) own way of governance.

As stated by a report from the FBI, the government of China, along with the Chinese Communist Party, poses a significant menace to both the economic prosperity and democratic principles of the United States through their counterintelligence operations and acts of economic espionage. The security agency further highlights that the Chinese government aims to attain global superpower status by means of predatory lending, unfair business practices, widespread intellectual property theft, and audacious cyber intrusions.

Besides, The US Defense Department has indicated that technologies manufactured by Chinese firm Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) pose possible dangers to US national security. Due to cybersecurity concerns, the Department of Defense announced a ban on the purchase and use of any commercial off-the-shelf drones, regardless of manufacturer, in 2018. The following year, Congress specifically prohibited by passing a legislation, the acquisition and use of China manufactured drones and components. The substantial technological advancement China made in becoming the world leader in 5G has alarmed the US to the point that it has decided to impose sanctions on Chinese 5G equipment vendors, particularly Huawei. The US in particular is alarmed by the nation’s emergence as a 5G era global leader, with domestic heavyweights like Huawei holding the majority of the world’s 5G-related patents.

Concerns about cybersecurity that have consequences for a wider national security environment go hand in hand with the pursuit of technological progress and innovation (Kadri, Henrik, Tomas). Since China’s political and legal system mandates cooperation with intelligence agencies, many nations have expressed their skeptical viewpoints about the possible effects of relationships between Chinese communications technology businesses and its intelligence services. The policy analysts understand it to be a strategic decision rather than a purely technical one. 

Poststructuralists, like realists and liberals, reject the idea that there is a single, knowable truth to be discovered. Postmodernists also present a counterargument to the ontological perspectives held by realists and liberals in IR, which prioritize the state as the fundamental unit of analysis and treat it as an inherent aspect of theorizing. Within certain postmodernist interpretations, states are not merely employing force as a strategic tool, but rather violence assumes significance even in the formation and essence of the state.

The extensive network of ultra-high voltage (UHV) transmission lines and the steady transition to renewable energy are two key features of China’s electricity market structure. This signifies that the nation’s ascent to the position of the world’s second-largest economy is firmly bolstered by its remarkable progress in terms of power. The US, which is still plagued by blackouts due to poor UHV development and an excessive reliance on non-renewable energy, appears to be overshadowed by such a miracle as the stability of the US power supply is fundamentally threatened.

The innovative developments of China and its technological advancement provide effectively to the general welfare, and the state’s substantial financing in core scientific knowledge and R&D opens up opportunities for multinational cooperation and helps improve the general cooperative competence to cope with ecological drawbacks, gain knowledge about outer space, and a diversity of other commonalities of interest such as cybersecurity and financial system stability. 

Beijing’s probable use of or exploitation of technology in ways that run counter to many of the United States’ and its partners’ and allies’ fundamental benefits and ideals is a source of apprehension for the US and many of its cohorts and friends. Subsequently igniting the notion of West versus the East. This modern geopolitical hegemonic feud is deeply impacted by China’s fast technological development. China has surpassed or is about to surpass the United States in various fields, particularly when it comes to the quick adoption of particular technology.

The Global Times highlights that, the Chinese economy’s goal to reach peak emissions by 2030 before turning to carbon neutral by 2060 is thought to be based on the current shift toward renewable energy, particularly solar and wind power. Although a UHV transmission superstructure is frequently cited as a remedy to the nation’s deteriorating transmission infrastructure, the US, a major worldwide producer and consumer of energy, has made poor progress in creating a robust national electrical grid.

While policy recommendations varied across experts and topics, a common thread emerged: the notion that continuing with existing strategies would fall short in safeguarding the interests and values of the United States. The pursuit of maintaining the status quo lacks rationality and appeal as a strategic policy goal, necessitating substantial and decisive measures to certify enhanced consequences across all facets of the technological rivalry between the United States and China.  China’s technology investments are guided by strategic clarity concerning objectives that encompass strengthening social control, expanding foreign influence, and enhancing military capabilities.

Michael Brown, Eric Chewning, and Pavneet Singh assert that the United States and China are competing in a “superpower marathon” in which the US must outperform its Asian rival in terms of economic might and technological prowess rather than making all-out efforts to contain them.  

Chinese developments in “intelligent” and autonomous weaponry are the main subject of Elsa B. Kania. As the U.S.-China competition heats up, the Chinese military and defense industries have launched significant projects in the research, development, and trial of autonomous and AI-enabled weapon systems that potentially endanger global peace and stability. The Research & Development (R&D) spending of China increased from around 14.3 billion Yuan in the beginning of 1990 to 2.44 trillion Yuan in 2020, which is almost 169 times.  China continues to supply military and opponents of the United States with weapons systems, undercutting American ideals and putting the spread of these systems to nefarious non-state actors at danger.

[Photo the U.S. Trade Representative, via Wikimedia Commons]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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