In Shanghai, Xi Jinping used an old Maoist slogan reflecting the current state of mind, stressing that Chinese state-owned enterprises should "rely on their own strengths". Such a concept is no less than an extension of the "Made in China 2025" plan, which aims at achieving high performance in artificial intelligence, robotics, semiconductors, electric cars, etc. – either alone, or through technology transfers. "Protectionism is on the rise and advanced technologies are more difficult to acquire, forcing us to rely on our own strengths," said the Chinese leader. Indeed, President Donald Trump has also strengthened the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which has blocked several Chinese takeovers in recent months. Chinese investments in the United States have fallen by 92% since January.
The discourse on China has become considerably more radical in Washington since Vice President Mike Pence's speech a few weeks ago. The Administration now presents China as a "strategic competitor", in other words an adversary. A message fuelled by many American media and think tanks whose tone have hardened over the course of trade sanctions, despite repeated criticism of Donald Trump’s policies on other issues.