If there is to be a Cold War 2.0 as many believe, it’s set to be radically different from the original, with any new “digital Iron Curtain” — forecast to split the world into US and Chinese technology zones — looking more like spaghetti than iron.
The ferocity of competition between Washington and Beijing to lead the world in everything from artificial intelligence to robotics is undeniable. Some disentanglement of the US and Chinese economies is already under way, amid a trade war. And yet the kind of separation seen either side of the Berlin Wall until 1989 remains a distant prospect.
The reluctance of the UK, the closest of US allies, to back Washington’s drive to keep China’s Huawei out of Western 5G networks suggests a world far more reluctant to pick sides than in the 1940s and 1950s.
Then there’s China’s deep integration into the global market economy — never true of the Soviet Union — as well as the open-source nature of much AI research, and the ability of each side to damage the other by withholding, say, computer chips or rare earth metals. At best, it would be a very messy divorce. — (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP