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Multinationals Still Need States

In a conference on Wednesday, the Obama administration unveiled a new strategy to combat the theft of U.S. trade secrets. The plan includes placing “sustained and coordinated diplomatic pressure” on offending countries like China and Russia, and the use of “trade policy tools” to protect U.S. companies.

This news comes during a week in which China has come under increased scrutiny for cyber attacks. Though Beijing has denied allegations of military-backed hacking, the White House report says that “Chinese actors are the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage.”

But this is not just an espionage story.

In the past 20 years there has been a lot of loose talk about how corporations have become denationalized. With operations all over the world, multinational corporations have supposedly become separated from the countries that had given birth to them.

What this story shows is that in the Real World corporations still need to work with their governments. For American companies losing valuable intellectual property to cyber attacks allegedly backed by powerful foreign governments, only the U.S. government can really provide support. And corporations need the United States to remain powerful, if only to have someone capable of representing them in disputes with foreign powers.

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