The Big Ideas

by Malcolm Riddell

Project Syndicate

Mike Spence | NYU & Nobel Laureate in Economics

Project Syndicate

Mike Spence | NYU & Nobel Laureate in Economics

Project Syndicate

'How China & America Should Compete'
'How China & America Should Compete'
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June 27, 2021
BIG IDEA | ‘China and the West urgently need a new framework for understanding the state of the world and their place in it. Such a framework must recognize, first and foremost, that properly regulated economic competition is not a zero-sum game.’

‘At the recent G7 and NATO gatherings, China was singled out as a strategic competitor, a calculating trading partner, a technological and national-security threat, a human-rights violator, and a champion of authoritarianism globally.

  • ‘China denounced these characterizations, which its embassy in the United Kingdom called “lies, rumors, and baseless accusations.”
  • ‘The risks that such rhetoric poses should not be underestimated.’

‘Many in the West disapprove of China’s single-party governance structure, just as vocal elements in China disparage Western liberal democracy, which they argue is in terminal decline.’

  • ‘The real danger, however, is that officials on both sides seem to have embraced a zero-sum framework, according to which the two sides cannot simply co-exist; one side must “win.” ’

‘By this logic, both sides must always be trying to crush the competition.’

  • ‘So, for China, the West – especially the United States – must be seeking to reverse its rise (which, in reality, was facilitated in no small part by the US).’
  • ‘And, for the West, China is determined to leverage its economic might, including its huge internal market, to reshape the global system in its image and to its benefit.’

‘The more often leaders repeat these narratives, the more likely ordinary citizens are to become convinced that they are true.’

  • ‘Rising fear and resentment on both sides increases the risk that the narratives will become self-fulfilling prophecies.’

There is nothing wrong with preferring the governance system in one’s own country, including its particular balance of individual rights and collective interests.’

  • When we assume that our own preferred system is objectively superior, and demonize alternatives, we end up mis-framing the terms and likely outcomes of economic and strategic competition.’
  • Worse, competition over governance distracts from more productive dimensions of interdependence.’

There is no clear evidence that one particular system of governance guarantees economic and social development.’

  • Both democracies and single-party systems have produced good and bad development outcomes.’
  • It seems that the most important precondition for development is leaders’ commitment to an inclusive vision of human well-being.’

‘Economic, technological, and military competition is inevitable.’

  • ‘The question is whether it will be constructive.’
  • ‘As it stands, the world is moving toward an equilibrium in which it will not be, with third parties, or “non-protagonists,” suffering the most.’

‘China and the West urgently need a new framework for understanding the state of the world and their place in it.’

  • ‘Such a framework must recognize, first and foremost, that properly regulated economic competition is not a zero-sum game.’

‘Countries are not condemned to play a zero-sum game, focused on making (or keeping) others weak.’

  • ‘China and the West should agree to achieve and preserve a degree of economic, technological, and defense parity.
  • ‘This means abandoning efforts to block the diffusion of knowledge and technology – an enterprise that is rarely effective in the long run.’

‘Such an approach would avoid greater fragmentation of the global economic system, which is particularly damaging to third parties.’

  • ‘And it would deter offensive use of military or technological capabilities – vital in an environment where neither side trusts the other.’

‘But a system that minimizes the need for trust does not justify mutual villainization.’

  • ‘The first step to changing course is for both sides to renounce the kind of provocative rhetoric we have seen in recent weeks.’

Bloomberg

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

'China Plans to Exempt H.K. IPOs From Cybersecurity Reviews'

‘China plans to exempt companies going public in Hong Kong from first seeking the approval of the country’s cybersecurity regulator, removing one hurdle for businesses that list in the Asian financial hub instead of the U.S.’
7/18/2021

The Wall Street Journal

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

The Editorial Board | The Wall Street Journal

'Biden’s Warning on Hong Kong'

‘The pretense of Chinese and Hong Kong authorities is that their crackdown on the rule of law and dissent will have no effect on Hong Kong’s viability as an international center for trade and finance.’
The Editorial Board | The Wall Street Journal
7/18/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

Why the U.S. Lacks Leverage over China

During the celebration of the Chinese Communist Party’s Centennial celebration, Mr. Xi stood in the same place on the balcony facing Tiananmen Square where Mao Zedong stood when he announced the founding of the PRC; Mr. Xi wore a gray Mao suit, among a sea of blue western suits; and he centered himself right above the portrait of Mao, who is similarly attired.
Malcolm Riddell
Founder of CHINADebate
7/18/2021

Foreign Affairs

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

Kurt Tong | Asia Group

Hong Kong and the Limits of Decoupling

‘The United States’ inability to make China regret—much less reverse—its transgressions in Hong Kong suggests that financial separation, sanctions, and economic barriers are less reliable tools than many in Washington believe.’
Kurt Tong | Asia Group
7/18/2021

Nikkei Asia

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

'I will aim for Mao's Status.'

‘There on the gate was Xi Jinping, Chinese president and party general secretary, in a gray Mao suit. Just below his feet was the portrait of Mao Zedong, also dressed in a gray Mao suit.’
7/18/2021

Financial Times

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

'US warns companies of risk of doing business in Hong Kong'

“In the face of Beijing’s decisions over the past year that have stifled the democratic aspirations of people in Hong Kong, we are taking action,” said Antony Blinken, US secretary of state. “Today we send a clear message that the US resolutely stands with Hong Kongers.”
7/18/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

The Chinese Point of View

Here are a few of my thoughts on the importance of Wang Jisi’s ‘The Plot Against China.’ Yuen Yuen Ang’s ‘The Evolution of Chinese Corruption’ speaks for itself - but note especially how Mr. Xi's anti-corruption campaign could hurt China's economy. I have now lived long enough that when a friend complains about his or her spouse, I say to myself, ‘There are no doubt two sides to this story.’
Malcolm Riddell
Founder of CHINADebate
7/4/2021

Foreign Affairs

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

Wang Jisi | President of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University

'How Beijing Sees U.S.-China Relations'

‘In Chinese eyes, the most significant threat to China’s sovereignty and national security has long been U.S. interference in its internal affairs aimed at changing the country’s political system and undermining the CCP.’
Wang Jisi | President of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University
7/4/2021
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