(Mar 6): While the rest of the world has been focused on the Democratic primaries in which Vermont’s left-wing senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden are duelling it out for the right to take on President Donald Trump in November, policy experts have been scratching their heads over something they believe threatens to turn the world’s largest free market economy into a decidedly more socialist one. No, I am not talking about Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s attempt to use social media giant Facebook’s data to boost the Trump campaign or influence White House policy. I am referring to the Trump administration’s attempt to abandon the free market system that it has long espoused and embrace Chinese-style policies such as “state capitalism” to build “national champions” in technology.

Trump has long been enamoured of strongmen like Putin as well as China’s President Xi Jinping and how they have used power to focus on and achieve national objectives. Four years ago, as Trump campaigned to become America’s 45th president, he repeated stories about how China had built state-of-the-art infrastructure like airports and high-speed railway network that was far superior to the creaky American one.

One key area that President Trump has identified as part of its attempt to “Make America Great Again” is to double down on its overall dominance in technology by expanding its lead and quickly playing catch-up in segments where it might lag, like next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure, which is currently being rolled out around the world.

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