At a press conference on September 13, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning fielded a reporter’s question about the Biden administration’s plans to expand restrictions on semiconductor exports to China with a fiery response:
“What the U.S. is doing is technological hegemony, absolutely. The U.S. is attempting to use its technological superiority to contain and suppress emerging markets and developing nations. The U.S. gives lip service to fair competition and a rules-based order, but its actions are about ‘America first’ and ‘May the strongest win.’ The U.S. wants to keep developing nations, including China, at the lower end of the industrial chain in perpetuity, which is not at all constructive.” [Chinese]
People’s Daily promptly launched the Weibo hashtag #USRestrictionsOnSemiconductorChipExportsAreTechnologicalHegemony (#美国限制芯片出口是科技霸权主义#), attracting an avalanche of comments, many of which mocked or criticized Mao Ning’s statement and the term “technological hegemony.” Netizens were initially surprised that there wasn’t more censorship of comments, although comments under the hashtag were eventually restricted to vetted Weibo accounts boasting “blue check marks.” CDT editors have archived and translated a selection of the comments that appeared before censors stepped in:
没有名字-201008：[It’s like when] I offended my neighbor and they changed their wi-fi password, and then when I couldn’t get online, I spent all day cursing them.
很饱了：If they sell to you, it’s “technological imperialism.” If they don’t sell to you, it’s “technological hegemony.” If they give it away, you suspect they have “ulterior motives.” If they don’t give it away, it’s a “technological stranglehold.” Can’t someone please step up and explain that no matter what happens, no matter what the setback, China is always going to claim it’s “winning”?
[…] 城春枫林晚：We’ve spent decades and squandered tens of billions, so where are are all those semiconductors we manufactured? We can hit them with a reciprocal ban, though—let’s ban the export of real estate, ban the export of nucleic-acid COVID testing technology, and we’ll soon have those Americans begging on their knees.
[…] 城春枫林晚：[…] Other people have things you lack. Giving things to others is a favor, not an obligation. So instead of whining like a weakling about the “hegemony” of others, how about putting your shoulder to the wheel and investing enough manpower and material resources to continue building up your own strength? Those who lag behind will be defeated. That’s been a truism for over a century.
[…] 千城74337：Not daring to open up the comments section is also “technological hegemony.”
黑北人：Next time, turn off the “share” function, and you’ll unite the whole country [against you].
[…] 南宫潇湘小林：They’re restricting semiconductor chips, you’re restricting comments—isn’t this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? What, are you afraid that everyone will be able to see what people actually think?
IT魅力：Two years ago, the government introduced a policy to subsidize the semiconductor industry. Within a year, ten thousand companies had entered the semiconductor industry, and we still have nothing to show for it. It’s like “making steel in backyard furnaces” all over again.
[…] 普雷结与酒：After reading the comments for about ten minutes, I refreshed the page, and this time all the comments were negative.
[…] 王博鑫wbx：I want a straight-A student to take the college entrance exam in my place. If the invigilator doesn’t allow it, is he being hegemonic? [Chinese]