Behind the daily skirmishes over tariffs, the U.S. and China are gearing up for a longer-term battle between two very different systems of innovation. To win, America may need to start using some of its rival’s weapons.
At the heart of the clash is the role of government. Washington isn’t a bystander: For decades it’s provided the tech industry with legal guardrails to foster competition, and risk capital for long-term research. Still, no bureaucrat told Steve Jobs to change the paradigm for mobile computing, or the founders of Uber to disrupt taxi services. Many U.S. entrepreneurs, when they look at federal agencies, mainly see a source of red tape.