Silicon Valley CEOs Echo Trump, Want Protection from China

Donald Trump laughs (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

A group of technology CEOs have called for the government to protect their interests from China, echoing the protectionist proposals that made Donald Trump so popular during the presidential campaign.

In a report sent to outgoing President Barack Obama “but likely to influence Trump’s future policies” by a range of technology executives, the signatories call for the U.S. government to protect and support American tech companies in the face of Chinese competition.

Contributors to the report include Google parent company Alphabet’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Intel CEO Paul Otellini, and Qualcomm executive chairman Paul Jacobs.

The report, which was published by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, says that a “concerted push by China to reshape the market in its favor, using industrial policies backed by over one hundred billion dollars in government-directed funds, threatens the competitiveness of U.S. industry and the national and global benefits it brings.”

“We strongly recommend a coordinated Federal effort to influence and respond to Chinese industrial policy, strengthen the U.S. business environment for semiconductor investment, and lead partnerships with industry and academia to advance the boundaries of semiconductor innovation,” it continues.

The report adds that U.S. authorities must “push back against innovation-inhibiting Chinese industrial policy” by reducing the number of acquisitions from Chinese companies, which they also argue could represent a threat to national security.

It also urges the government to implement tax reform to attract investment, although it also calls for investing in talent both at home and abroad, something President-elect Donald Trump is likely to object to under his “America First” plan.

Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly criticised successive governments for their failure to protect America’s interests from the booming Chinese economy. Although his candidacy was widely opposed by Silicon Valley executives, it appears that the new administration and the technology industry could find some common ground.

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