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RELATION AU MONDE: Rivalités et interdépendances: GAFAM vs BATX

Or how an economic war can raise political and ideological tensions.

Since Donald Trump’s frontal attack on Chinese companies Tik Tok and Huawei, the technological cold war between China and the United States has become a reality.

During his term, Trump forbade the sale of its products in the USA and he also forbade American companies to buy chinese componants.

China fought back and started to produce the componants they used to buy from American companies in order to be self-sufficient.

At the beginning of 2020, Tik Tok was banned in the USA for security reasons ; it was a threat because of its success among young American teenagers. Yet the Trump administration did not manage to curb (= restrict / limit) its development.

Vocabulary List

minimum wage

a criticism


a listed company



a phenomenon

to be held responsible for

an investor

to stifle innovation

computer science

a fine

a moral duty

to harm the consumers


too powerful an opponent


social pressure

tax fraud

to curb their power

to catch up with…


a web browser

a search engine

an artificial intelligence researcher

to join forces

to abide by…

to intend to do something




corporate members

the involvement

a subsidiary

to benefit humanity

a funding of $1bn

a partnership

taxpayer subsidies

an affordable way

a state grant

the workforce



a bid

le salaire de base

une critique


une entreprise côtée en bourse

la concurrence

les fournisseurs

un phénomène (pl.: phenomena)

être tenu responsable de

un investisseur

étouffer l’innovation


une amende

une obligation morale

faire du mal aux consommateurs


un adversaire trop puissant


la pression sociale

la fraude fiscale

réduire leur pouvoir

rattraper le retard sur…

les logiciels

un navigateur internet

un moteur de recherche

un chercheur en intelligence artificielle

réunir les forces

obéir à …

avoir l’intention de faire qqch


le fait d’être digne de confiance

la fiabilité

les membres de l’entreprise


une filiale

profiter à l’humanité

des fonds/financements d’1 Md€

un partenariat

les subventions des contribuables

un moyen abordable

une subvention de l’État

la main-d’oeuvre / les employés

syndicats / organisations syndicales

siège social

une offre

GAFA vs BATX: To Rule Them All

When it comes to the new technologies sector, and AI especially, the USA and China are head and shoulders above the rest. Measured by the number of startups, patents filed or sums invested ($25bn annually by Washington, $65bn by Beijing), the domination of these two economic superpowers in the new-tech sector is crushing.

This dominance is embodied by a handful of tech giants: GAFA (Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook – to which one could add Microsoft) and BATX (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Xiaomi – throw in Huawei if you wish). These firms have a common denominator: stratospheric market capitalization, $4.5trn combined. That’s comfortably more than the GDP of the world’s fourth-biggest economy, Germany. (…)

These leviathans, which owe their success to the development of the internet, are in a constant state of evolution, expanding their activities into AI, deep learning, autonomous vehicles, fintech and healthcare. In just a few years they have come to dominate our daily lives – just as they have done the global economy – to the extent that they now wield the power to profoundly remodel the way our societies function. 

High geopolitical stakes

An Australian Alibaba, a French Facebook? GAFA and BATX have grown so big that the very idea a newcomer could rival them seems preposterous. And that’s the problem. Europe has taken the first steps in attacking their economic model, enacting new data-protection laws and promoting the European tech industry. It’s a third way that has yet to be tested.

In the eyes of Washington and Beijing, commercial and technological advances are of national – even nationalist – importance. This economic and geopolitical rivalry has reshuffled the deck for the big tech companies, who are at once the perpetrator and the victims, as Apple and Huawei can attest.

One final risk to these companies comes from their market dominance. Accusations of abuse of dominant position and calls for greater regulation have grown in recent years. In the US the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched a taskforce to look into monopolies in the tech industry; this could see, for example, Facebook being forced to sell Instagram.

Attacked on all fronts, GAFA and BATX are putting up fierce resistance while forging ahead with their plans for world domination.

By Cecile Chevré (Translation: Simon McGeady) for Décideurs Magazine (March 7th 2019)

Europe's competition plan

                                            European Tech map                                

Here is a map of Europe showing the major European companies that have prospered thanks to digital (= le numérique).

A new cold war?

A new polarization has been taking place for several years between the United States and China. The Trump administration used very harsh rhetoric toward Chinese trade development strategies, and while the Biden administration has taken a very different tone, the American positioning remains the same. Can we therefore speak of a new cold war?

This infographic highlights the interdependence between the two countries, to the detriment of the United States, whose trade balance is largely in deficit. It also shows the financial dependence of the United States on China, which holds 15% of its global debt.

Trump’s position to China

Biden’s position to China

President Trump took a stand against China’s manufacturing supremacy and corrupt practices with his “America First” campaign and policy. – He accused China of stealing American jobs.

– He was the first American president to use a very tough rhetoric against China.

– His unilateral decision to raise tariffs on Chinese products was considered an aggression by China.

Therefore, the relations between the two countries deteriorated without any real benefit for the American economy.

20 years ago, president Biden was favourable to China’s entry in the World Trade Organization.

– He does not use the same aggressive rhetoric as Trump.

– However, Biden strongly opposes China’s trade practices and tries to counter them..

Yet he believes that the US cannot change the situation alone.

Analyze the graph:

Chinese students studying in the USA/year

American students studying in China /year

US money invested in China

Chinese money invested in USA

Value of the goods exported by the US to China

Value of the goods exported by China to the USA

Country buying more goods from the other

TEXT : The Huawei ban explained by C.Scott Brown, Android Authority, 25 November 2020

Huawei is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. At the start of 2019, the company was expected to become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer by the end of that year, stealing the crown from Samsung.

Despite this success, Huawei has dealt with numerous accusations over the years of shady business practices. It also has been accused — although with no hard proof — of using its products to spy on other nations. This is a worrisome thought considering the company’s close ties to the Chinese government. (…)

On May 15, 2019, President Trump issued an executive order that bans the use of telecommunications equipment from foreign firms deemed a national security risk. The order itself doesn’t mention Huawei (or even China) specifically. However, the US Department of Commerce created what it refers to as an “Entity List” related to the order that does contain Huawei’s name. (…)

On Sunday, May 19, 2019, Google publicly declared that it would be complying with Trump’s Huawei ban. Interpreting the language of the order, Google determined that the proper course of action would be to cut Huawei off from Google’s suite of digital products. This means that Huawei no longer would have access to the very fundamentals of Android smartphones. Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, and even the Google Play Store itself were now no longer available for Huawei to use on new products. (…) Without Google apps on its phones , Huawei couldn’t compete outside of China. In 2020, the company needed to start developing a way to fix that problem. (..) Huawei’s answer to this was APP Gallery – its proprietary Android App store. (…) but it is by no way a solid replacement for the play store.

So with the Huawei-US ban in effect, the company has had to completely revamp how it creates and releases smartphones. It also faces mounting scrutiny from other nations, many of which rely on Huawei for wireless networking equipment.

Since May 2019, Huawei has had some minor wins, but the bulk of the ban is still in place. It appears the Huawei ban will be in effect in perpetuity and the company will need to strategize around it until further notice.


1. What is Huawei ? Where is it bases ?

2. What is this company’s reputation like ?

3. What action did the US government take in May 2019 ? How did they justify this ?

4. How did the decision affect Huawei ?

5. How has Huawei responded to the challenge ? Did this solution work ?

Military tensions in the South China Sea

The Coming War on China, a film by John Pilger

Take notes and answer the following questions:

1) The impact of US military bases on the south Asian territory.

2) The image of China in the USA.

3) China’s evolution and development.

4) The struggle of the inhabitants of Okinawa island to prevent the USA from building a new base.

5) The Spratly Islands issue.

A propaganda war?

Lisez les 2 documents ci-dessous et faites une synthèse da la guerre de propagande au cinéma entre les USA et la Chine.

The film The Nevernight Connection was produced by American national intelligence agencies (the NCSC and the FBI).

Their goal is to show Americans how foreign spies collect classified information thus endangering the American population and national security.

This film was condemned by the Chinese authorities who consider that the movie is a propaganda film aiming at damaging China’s reputation in the world.

Extracts of a New York Times’ article analysing Erich Schwartzel’s book about China’s take-over (= mainmise) of Hollywood.

American movies (are subjected) to an unprecedented process of ideological filtration. In the movies approved by China’s censors you will find no mention of an afterlife, no time travel and no masturbation. “Underdog narratives”(= récits de parias) are a problem. Hollywood stars on promotional visits have to follow the rules and negative images of China are to be expunged. (…)

Red Carpet” (tells us about) the rewriting of “World War Z” to clarify that the apocalyptic zombie virus did not actually originate, as previously thought, in China; the cutting of a scene in “Skyfall” in which James Bond Bondishly offs a Chinese security guard (makes Chinese people look weak); and — most spectacularly — in a remake of “Red Dawn,” the postproduction pixel-by-pixel transformation of an entire invading Chinese army into an army from North Korea. (…)

In addition to those things being taken out of American movies at the behest of (à la demande expresse de) China, there are also things being put in, “A Chinese city, actress or energy drink,”. Sometimes the Chinese film bureau will make a suggestion: Instead of heroic American jets roaring in to save Hong Kong from marauding giant robots in the climactic scenes of “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” how about heroic Chinese jets? Sure! says the studio, for whom Chinese cooperation is “an economic no-brainer.(a no-brainer = une évidence) (…)

At the same time, in Chinese films, Americans are getting worse. “When Hollywood studios were stripping their movies of Chinese villains,” writes Schwartzel, “Chinese filmmakers were not extending the same courtesy.” He instances the 2017 mega-smash “Wolf Warrior 2,” in which the Chinese hero Leng rescues African villagers from a disgusting, stomping, supremacist American mercenary. (…)

In the movie’s closing credits,” (= générique de fin) a pronouncement appeared: ‘Citizens of the People’s Republic of China, when you encounter danger in a foreign land, do not give up! Please remember, at your back stands a strong motherland!’’