Photo by Ling Tang on Unsplash

What is the Tech Cold War of 2019?

There’s a tech cold war brewing between the U.S. and China

Michael K. Spencer
Jun 8 · 5 min read

In 2019 the trade war is on-boarding us into a world where it’s U.S vs. China in a tech cold war that could last decades.

The Neutral Zones Caught in the Cross-Fire

This means places like Europe and countries like Australia, Canada and India will be caught in the crossfire.

The U.S. banning Huawei products and China aligning with Russia are examples of this escalation. The official start of the Tech Cold War, to me, began in May, 2019.

It won’t end until one of the superpowers dominates the next era of AI, the Cloud, the internet, apps and an era of exponential technologies like biotech, artificial intelligence, EdTech and surveillance architectures that are only beginning now.

Walled Gardens Lead to an Architecture of Social Credit Surveillance Systems

With a move toward de-globalization, trade tensions, recession watching and amid China’s 2025 plan to catch up in technology and AI with Silicon Valley, that will mean, in a world of walled gardens and a bifurcation of the internet, cybersecurity and economic trade terrorism will reach new levels.

A Cold Tech war will pit China’s rising dynasty of tech giants with more established American brands like FAANG companies. FAANG companies are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google. Most of those are unlikely to survive the next 30 years. Amazon and Google most probably will.

China’s Momentum will Increase

China will keep churning out unicorns and startups that the Chinese Government and a maturing Hong Kong and Shanghai stock market will be able to scale much faster. Softbank’s Vision Fund won’t always support the Uber and We Company’s of the world. Eventually they will realize Chinese firms are a safer bet.

The trade war doesn’t just escalate a strategic rivalry here, China’s companies like Huawei, Alibaba, ByteDance and others will continue to take global marketshare from American companies across the board. The battle for places like South America, Africa, India and South East Asia like Indonesia has already begun.

The tech cold war doesn't just linger irrespective of trade deals, it will mirror China’s ascension to increasing global power and influence in an era of data, artificial intelligence and surveillance architectures — and the emergence of a global data police state, which ironically ad giants like Facebook and Google will be remembered for initiating.

5G and Artificial Intelligence

China’s domination of 5G, for example, will be formidable. China gives licenses to major state-owned mobile carriers for the commercial rollout of 5G. China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Radio and Television are the companies that have obtained the license as of June, 2019.

While China was initially considering a 5G rollout in 2020, analysts say the timeline appears accelerated with services likely to be launched later this year. While Huawei is believed to have considerable state ties to the Chinese Government, at this point so should Alibaba or any Chinese firm that has seen any kind of a “meteoric rise”, so brands like ByteDance and Luckin certainly come to mind, they are based in Beijing after all.

The Era of Exponential Tech Coincides with the rise of New China

A Tech Cold war is coming America doesn’t just not understand, we aren’t equipped for it. China has been planning this for over a decade. China knows it will dominate Asia and become the economic super power, therefore technological supremacy is also somewhat inevitable.

This is a new Cold War to determine who will be the hegemonic power, economically and militarily, in the years to come. And we know in 2019, artificial intelligence will be at the front lines of this escalation of competition between East and West, China and America. Trump’s attack on Huawei is just a sign of things to come.

China doesn’t just want to dominate the future of the internet. America never even had ambition like New China has today. If America has democratic allies and a $ dollar that’s the default fiat currency of the world, even these might not last forever.

The 5G networking standard is seen as critical because it can support the next generation of mobile devices in addition to new applications like driverless cars. From environmental reform to infrastructure projects China is showing it’s far more mature to actually get things done than America. China’s organization will actually be able to fast-track real innovation in technology and business in the years to come.

The AI Arms Race is the Last Frontier

The looming “tech cold war” between the United States and China may now provide an initial test of that proposition. Europe cannot stay neutral for ever, in the end it must side with China or face grave consequences.

For Canada and Australia the predicament is even more complicated. This also means the role of countries such as India, Indonesia and Brazil become much more significant in this re-negotiation of global power in the future of the global economy and technology.

The Tech Cold War will involve variables at the first heart of innovation, AI, business and technology overlapping with politics, culture and how the internet itself evolves.

If China begins rolling out 5G this year, it will be one of the first to do so. It’s hard not seeing China leading the race to AI eventually just as it likely will with 5G.

China’s ethics regarding mass surveillance and tech like facial recognition also alters its ability to export these norms to other places in the world. China’s influence on the culture behind technology increases as it churns out global corporations that can rival American ones.

The global tech cold war is a story of China catching up and surpassing America on nearly every level that matters. This will take decades, but it’s also one of the main plots of the 21st century with repercussions from everything from the colonization of Mars, to the future of the global economy.

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Michael K. Spencer

Written by

Blockchain Mark Consultant, tech Futurist, a prolific writer. DM me on LinkedIn for freelance quotes:


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