LONDON — Officials from the European Union, Malaysia and Singapore are skeptical about the United States’ efforts to cut China out of the global high-tech trading system, expressing reluctance to join Washington as it works to throttle the rapid expansion of the world’s second-largest economy into a global technology power.
Speaking at POLITICO’s Global Tech Day on Thursday, David Koh, chief executive of Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency, said his country had grown rich because of its open economy and would continue to build ties with China. Lucilla Sioli, a senior official within the European Commission’s DG CONNECT, added that Brussels would continue to work with Beijing, even as some European countries became increasingly wary of potential economic dependencies on China.
“For Malaysia, China is an important trading partner,” added Fahmi Fadzil, Malaysia’s communications and digital minister, who was also speaking at the event in London. “Malaysia is a neutral country, we do adhere to a free market policy.”
The comments come as American officials — both within U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration and Congress — are urging their global allies to take a more skeptical stance toward Chinese technology. That includes attempts to sideline Beijing within the fast-growing telecommunications and semiconductor industries, as well as potential limits on how artificial intelligence is being embedded in societies worldwide.
Koh, the Singaporean official, said that he did have security concerns associated with Beijing. But he said the policy of “de-risking” — now Washington’s preferred term for its efforts to separate China from the global trading system, particularly around high-tech industries — was also troubling. “Our concern is that de-risking, taken too far, will affect the current status quo,” he added.
Sioli, the European official, claimed the 27-country bloc was trying to reduce its over-reliance on technology supply chains, mostly from Asia, that had come under immense pressure during the recent coronavirus pandemic. But, the Italian added, the EU would maintain some form of relationship with China — all while upholding its democratic values at a time when the geopolitics around digital policymaking was becoming increasingly heated.
“We want to work with China as an economic power,” she said.
Brendan Bordelon contributed reporting from Washington.
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