The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) - the world’s largest industrial think tank - has launched a campaign in the United States against China’s industrial strategy.

Taking the example of high-speed rail transport, it demonstrates how China, while innovating relatively little, has come to dominate the sector [1]. The Chinese government started by heavily subsidizing a state-owned company, which became the major player in the market and swallowed up all the small innovative companies.

There is nothing illegal about this strategy. However, it is based on monopoly mega-enterprises, a practice that has been banned by the United States since the 1929 crisis and the anti-trust laws. A strategy which, in addition, attaches primary importance to technology transfers.

It is a mercantilist doctrine, in the sense that was attributed to this term from the 15th to the 18th century: involvement by the State in the organization of the economy and, in particular, export assistance. The example of Colbertism in France comes to mind.

From 2006, China gradually abandoned the objectives of the agreement concluded between Deng Xiaoping and US corporations. It no longer wanted to be the “workshop of the world” for the sole benefit of its workers, but to place its economic development at the service of the entire nation.

The ultimate goal is always the same: lifting people out of poverty. This policy became official in 2013 with the election of Xi Jinping and the launch of the “Silk Road” project. Henceforth, economic globalization no longer plays in favor of the USA, but of China.

[1] Heading Off Track : The Impact of China’s Mercantilist Policies on Global High-Speed Rail Innovation, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, April 26, 2021.