UK's U-turn puts America first, Britain last

​By Tom Fowdy
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 24, 2022
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Newport Wafer Fab (NWF) logo is seen on a smartphone screen. [Photo/CFP]

Last week, the British government canceled the takeover of the Newport Wafer Fab by the Netherlands-based chip firm Nexperia, which a Chinese company owns. The government claims that the annulment is because of "national security concerns" having already been subject to review. The review had been proposed since April. However, it was delayed over six months due to the leadership crisis in the British government, wherein a series of scandals and disastrous policies brought down the administrations of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

It represents the second time the U.K. has U-turned on a critically important Chinese investment. The decisive factor was, to nobody's surprise, the pressure of the United States.

The U.S. routinely forces its allies worldwide to block Chinese investments and takeovers, just like in the Newport Wafer Fab case. The U.S., taking China as its rival, has imposed increasingly sweeping and large-scale sanctions and embargos on the latter's technology industry and companies and applied billions in subsidies directed towards forcibly reshoring manufacturing.

Across the board, the U.S. is tearing up the global supply chain and rebuilding one around itself to seek the domination of high-end technology to ensure its strategic hegemony.

When looked at it from this angle, the premise that the takeover of the Newport Wafer Fab constitutes a "national security threat" is a complete lie. Such action runs utterly contrary to the way and rules in which a free-market economy professes to operate and damages the credibility of the British government.

The decision to veto the firm's takeover has also attracted significant domestic opposition in Britain. The company's staff association wrote a letter to the government saying, "We are in disbelief that you have decided to order Nexperia to sell their semiconductor factory in Newport. We are also angry that your decision might imply that a member of our team may, in some obscure way, undermine the U.K.'s national security."

The company also criticized the government for turning a blind eye to the concerns of the employees in Newport, saying its decision to take the divestment has put the livelihoods of its employees and their families, as well as more than £100 million of taxpayers' money, completely unnecessarily at risk.

Since leaving the European Union in the name of "Brexit," the U.K. has frequently discussed building a "Global Britain." However, as the Newport Wafer saga shows, and likewise with 5G, it is repeatedly cutting off its own nose to spite its face to appease American preferences. Doing so undermines jobs, investment and opportunities with one of its most critical trade and investment partners. This costly decision has put America first and British workers last.

Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. For more information please visit:

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