China Macro Reporter
1. ‘China’s rise would have eroded any hegemon’s unrivaled power, no matter how skillful its diplomacy’: Fareed Zakaria

<tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><a href="" target="_blank"><img style="width:100%" src="" alt="CHINADebate"></a></td></tr></tbody></table></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt">‘So which was it that eroded American hegemony—the rise of new challengers or imperial overreach? As with any large and complex historical phenomenon, it was probably all of the above.’</p><p><strong>The July/August issue</strong><strong>of <em>Foreign Affairs</em></strong> focuses on <a href="" target="_blank">‘What Happened to the American Century.’</a></p><ul><a href="" target="_blank"><img style="display:block; width:120px; float:right; right:20px; padding-left:20px" src="" alt="CHINADebate"></a><li><strong>Goes without saying</strong> that China’s rise is prominent in the many of the essays.</li><li><strong>Of these, </strong>Fareed Zakaria’s <a href="" target="_blank">‘The self-destruction of American power’</a> intertwines China with other factors to answer his question: ‘So which was it that eroded American hegemony—the rise of new challengers or imperial overreach?’</li><li><strong>Below </strong>are some Fareed’s key points. But his essay and the others are certainly worth your time.</li><li><strong>Note: </strong>you will need a subscription to <em>Foreign Affairs</em> – and that too is worth it.</li></ul><table class="intable"><tr><td class="intable-border"><p><strong>‘Just as American hegemony</strong> grew in the early 1990s while no one was noticing, so in the late 1990s did the forces that would undermine it, even as people had begun to speak of the United States as “the indispensable nation” and “the world’s sole superpower,”’ writes Fareed Zakaria.</p><h6>1. New Challengers</h6><p>🇨🇳 <strong>'First and foremost,</strong> there was the rise of China. It is easy to see in retrospect that Beijing would become the only serious rival to Washington, but it was not as apparent a quarter century ago.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Although China</strong> had grown speedily since the 1980s, it had done so from a very low base.’</li><li><strong>‘Few countries</strong> had been able to continue that process for more than a couple of decades.’</li><li><strong>‘China’s strange mixture</strong> of capitalism and Leninism seemed fragile, as the Tiananmen Square uprising had revealed.’</li><li><strong>‘But China’s rise persisted,</strong> and the country became the new great power on the block, one with the might and the ambition to match the United States.’</li><li><strong>‘China’s rise</strong> was one of those tectonic shifts in international life that would have eroded any hegemon’s unrivaled power, no matter how skillful its diplomacy.’</li></ul><p>🇷🇺 <strong>‘Russia, for its part,</strong> went from being both weak and quiescent in the early 1990s to being a revanchist power, a spoiler with enough capability and cunning to be disruptive.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘The return of Russia,</strong> however, was a more complex affair.'</li><li><strong>'It’s easy to forget now, </strong> but in the early 1990s, leaders in Moscow were determined to turn their country into a liberal democracy, a European nation, and an ally of sorts of the West.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘With two major global players</strong> outside the U.S.-constructed international system, the world had entered a post-American phase.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Today, the United States</strong> is still the most powerful country on the planet.’</li><li><strong>‘But it exists in a world</strong> of global and regional powers that can—and frequently do—push back.’</li></ul><h6>2. Imperial Overreach</h6><p><strong>‘The 9/11 attacks</strong> and the rise of Islamic terrorism played a dual role in the decline of U.S. hegemony.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘At first,</strong> the attacks seem to galvanize Washington and mobilize its power.’ </li><li><strong>‘After 9/11,</strong> Washington made major, consequential decisions that continue to haunt it, but it made all of them hastily and in fear.’ </li><li><strong>‘American behavior</strong> abroad during the Bush administration shattered the moral and political authority of the United States, as long-standing allies such as Canada and France found themselves at odds with it on the substance, morality, and style of its foreign policy.’</li></ul></td></tr></table><table class="intable"><tr><td class="intable-border"><p><strong>‘So which was it that eroded American hegemony</strong> — the rise of new challengers or imperial overreach?</p><ul><li><strong>'As with any large and complex historical phenomenon,</strong> it was probably all of the above.’</li></ul><ul></ul><p><strong>But ‘the greatest error</strong> the United States committed during its unipolar moment, with Russia and more generally, was to simply stop paying attention.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘After the collapse</strong> of the Soviet Union, Americans wanted to go home, and they did.’ </li></ul></td></tr></table><table class="intable"><tr><td class="intable-border"><p><strong>‘The Trump administration</strong> has hollowed out U.S. foreign policy even further.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘</strong><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Trump’s instincts are Jacksonian</strong></a><strong>,</strong> in that he is largely uninterested in the world except insofar as he believes that most countries are screwing the United States.’</li><li><strong>‘He is a nationalist,</strong> a protectionist, and a populist, determined to put “America first.”’</li></ul><p><strong>But truthfully,</strong> more than anything else, <a href="" target="_blank">he has abandoned the field</a>.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Under Trump,</strong> the United States has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and from engaging with Asia more generally.’</li><li><strong>‘It is uncoupling itself</strong> from its 70-year partnership with Europe.’</li><li><strong>‘It has dealt</strong> with Latin America through the prism of either keeping immigrants out or winning votes in Florida.’</li><li><strong>‘It has even managed </strong>to alienate Canadians (no mean feat).’</li><li><strong>‘And it has subcontracted</strong> Middle East policy to Israel and Saudi Arabia.’ </li><li><strong>‘With a few impulsive exceptions</strong>—such as the narcissistic desire to win a Nobel Prize by trying to make peace with North Korea—what is most notable about Trump’s foreign policy is its absence.’</li></ul></td></tr></table><table class="intable"><tr><td class="intable-border"><p>🇬🇧 <strong>‘Unlike the United Kingdom</strong> at the end of its reign, the United States is not bankrupt or imperially overextended.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘It remains</strong> the single most powerful country on the planet.’</li><li><strong>‘It will continue</strong> to wield immense influence, more than any other nation.’</li><li><strong>‘But it will no longer define</strong> and dominate the international system the way it did for almost three decades.’</li></ul></td></tr></table></td></tr>

2. ‘Not another downturn in U.S.-China relations: a paradigm shift’: Jim McGregor

<tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src=""></iframe></td></tr></tbody></table></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt">‘So you have to think about things differently - it's not the China you knew for the last 30 years.’</p><p><strong>‘What we're going</strong> through now is not another downturn in U.S.-China relations: it's a paradigm shift,’ says Jim McGregor in a short U.S.-China Business Council <a href="" target="_blank">video interview</a>.</p><ul><li><strong>‘We're not sure</strong> where it's going to end up - I'm not saying things are going to be terrible, but things are going to be different.’</li><li><strong>‘So you have to think</strong> about things differently - it's not the China you knew for the last 30 years.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘One of the reasons</strong> things are so different is that the business relationship that used to be the core, the balance, the ballast of U.S.-China relations has changed.’</p><p><strong>‘Before,</strong> while we had a lot of other conflicts, business still worked pretty well – China and the U.S. were complementary economies.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘China needed capital,</strong> know-how, technology.’</li><li><strong>‘American companies</strong> went to China and made a lot of money, mostly exporting inexpensive goods during a time of stagnant wages – and that kept inflation down.’</li><li><strong>‘All of China’s Treasury</strong> purchases kept our mortgage rates down.’</li><li><strong>‘Things</strong> were working pretty.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘That is</strong> now different.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘China is now </strong>a very powerful country.’</li><li><strong>‘We are in a contest</strong> for all the technologies of the future - we both want to dominate AI, dominate chips, dominate new materials.’</li><li><strong>‘It’s a hot competition</strong> - more than a cold war - a hot competition between two countries that have very different systems.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘China's system</strong> is different from the rest of the world.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘China has</strong> authoritarian capitalism, which actually gives it a lot of advantages.’</li><li><strong>‘We used to think</strong> it was a disadvantage because we thought you couldn't become prosperous unless you had democracy, unless you had open information.’</li><li><strong>‘China has turned</strong> that on its head.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘China’s system</strong> is actually an advantage for them in seeking the commanding heights of all these technologies.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘It’s able</strong> to have companies that don't make money.’</li><li><strong>‘So China’s able</strong> to pump all kinds of money into technology without worrying about a profit.’</li><li><strong>‘It’s able</strong> to control its market.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘All this has to be sorted</strong> out against a lot of geopolitical turbulence with a lot of countries right now.’</p></td></tr>

3. ‘China had America right where it wanted it - and they overreached’: Jim McGregor

<tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><a href="" target="_blank"><img style="width:100%" src="" alt="CHINADebate"></a></td></tr></tbody></table></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt">‘If the U.S. won’t treat this like a Sputnik moment, China will.’ </p><p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Jim McGregor</strong></a> is chairman of APCO Worldwide - Greater China, past chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, and has lived in China for more than 30 years. </p><ul><li><strong>He recently gave</strong> an interview to <em>New York</em> magazine, <a href="" target="_blank">‘Talking to China Expert James McGregor About Trump’s Haphazard Trade War.’</a></li><li><strong><em>‘Intelligencer</em></strong> spoke with him about Trump’s strategy, or lack there-of, and the reasons why China might treat this as a pivotal moment in their economic relationship with the U.S., while we are more likely to remain complacent.’</li></ul><hr><p><img style="width:20px;margin-left:-25px;position: absolute;" src="" alt="CHINADebate"><em>‘To start at the beginning, what does the U.S. want out of a trade war, and what does China not want to give up?’</em></p><p><strong>‘Well, the U.S. actually</strong> wants China to do away with state capitalism and its industrial policies,’ says Jim McGregor.</p><ul><li><strong>‘And, China just wants</strong> to move ahead in the way it’s been moving ahead in the past.’</li><li><strong>‘To be really frank,</strong> the Chinese system is working for China better than the American system is working for America.’</li><li><strong>‘And that’s a real threat - </strong>we’ve got to make our system work better.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Basically it’s Trump’s impression</strong> that China is taking advantage of the American trade system, which is partly true.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘In China,</strong> there are state companies and state funds and state regulators who can put products out at prices where companies that have to make money can’t compete.’</li><li><strong>‘They can control</strong> their own markets through their regulators and really hurt foreign companies in this market.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘But there’s not a clear path</strong> for Trump to move forward.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘His idea is that America</strong> is so powerful that it can bring China to its knees and get China to change its system.’</li><li><strong>‘Good luck</strong> with that one.’</li></ul><e></e><p><img style="width:20px;margin-left:-25px;position: absolute;" src="" alt="CHINADebate"><em>‘You were recently </em><a href="" target="_blank"><em>quoted</em></a><em> by Thomas Friedman, saying that China “instead of reforming and opening, has been reforming and closing.” Could you expand on that concept?’</em></p><p><strong>‘I just returned from Washington</strong> and there’s one bipartisan thought in Washington: “China is a bad guy.” How did that come about?’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Over the last decade,</strong> China made it harder and harder for foreign companies in their domestic market.’</li><li><strong>‘When a Chinese company</strong> can do what a foreign company does, they start marginalizing a foreign company’s ability to get in a certain market.’</li><li><strong>‘At the same time,</strong> regarding trade deals, if the rules work for China, then they adhere to the terms.’</li><li><strong>‘If they don’t work</strong> for China, they ignore them.’</li><li><strong>‘The same thing</strong> with the WTO.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘China has,</strong> over time, turned the American business community against it, which is not easy to do.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘The American business community</strong> was China’s biggest supporter in Washington.’</li></ul><e></e><p><img style="width:20px;margin-left:-25px;position: absolute;" src="" alt="CHINADebate"><em>‘Do you think there’s any merit to Friedman’s claim that only a mad dog president could go head to head with China and make them compromise?’</em></p><p><strong>‘You need to go back</strong> to 2016 to answer that.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘If Hillary Clinton were elected,</strong> she’d probably would have revived the Trans-Pacific Partnership.’</li><li><strong>‘If you really want</strong> to get China to change, TPP would have been a huge incentive, as it was a major trading block that – in order to become part of it, they would have had to conform to.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘The unique thing</strong> about Trump is that he’s this orange wrecking ball, and the Chinese don’t know how to deal with him.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘All of their normal strategies</strong> — going to the investment bankers, trying to get the business community to do their bidding in Washington — none of that works because he doesn’t care.’</li><li><strong>‘He’s got an attitude</strong> and wants to push back, which has China discombobulated.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘The unfortunate thing</strong> is that it doesn’t look like he’s thought through a strategic endgame.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘He’s really withdrawn</strong> the U.S. from having an economic proposition for the Asia region for a generation maybe.’</li></ul><e></e><p><img style="width:20px;margin-left:-25px;position: absolute;" src="" alt="CHINADebate"><em>‘Does a discombobulated China give the U.S. an upper hand in any capacity, or is it just another unknown variable at this point?’</em></p><p><strong>‘It prevents China</strong> from using its normal mechanisms of influence in Washington: giving enough major corporations enough of a market share that they would lobby for not pushing back on China in D.C.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘None of that</strong> works anymore.’</li><li><strong>‘So China</strong> has been at a loss in how to deal with this guy.’</li><li><strong>‘China is always </strong>looking for strategy and logic, and Trump never gets near either of those things.’</li></ul><e></e><p><img style="width:20px;margin-left:-25px;position: absolute;" src="" alt="CHINADebate"><em>‘Is there a strategy evolving in China, or is it up in the air over there as well?’</em></p><p><strong>‘The Chinese strategy</strong> is to treat this like a moment to regroup and protect themselves and to reduce and eventually eliminate their dependence on American technology, and reduce their dependence on American agriculture.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘If the U.S. won’t treat this</strong> like a Sputnik moment, China will.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Especially in the actions on Huawei,</strong> which is the most important company in China by a factor of 100, because it’s part of China’s geopolitical strategy.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘If they cut Huawei off</strong> from being able to have American technology components at this point, it really hurts the country.’</li><li><strong>‘But it also demonstrates</strong> to Chinese leadership that they better get off that dependence on American tech.’</li></ul><e></e><p><img style="width:20px;margin-left:-25px;position: absolute;" src="" alt="CHINADebate"><em>‘China has accused the U.S. of economic terrorism. Do you think there’s any truth to that?’</em></p><p><strong>‘That’s just rhetoric,</strong> but here’s the real worrisome thing.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘In China,</strong> because of the strong propaganda apparatus and the state control of information, there’s basically nobody in the country that believes China has any blame for what’s going on.’</li><li><strong>‘There is a belief</strong> that China is finally on the rise, and America and the West are doing this to keep China down, to keep China poor.’</li><li><strong>‘What’s really</strong> happening is “you reap what you sow.”’</li></ul><e></e><p><img style="width:20px;margin-left:-25px;position: absolute;" src="" alt="CHINADebate"><em>‘Are there any political implications for President Xi?’ </em></p><p><strong>‘There’s all</strong> kinds of risk for President Xi.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Remember,</strong> he is a strongman leader, he makes all decisions, he cannot make any mistakes, he can’t be showing any weakness and now he has this trade war with the United States.’</li><li><strong>‘I imagine</strong> there’s some conversation at high levels in the party about who lost America.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Think about it,</strong> they’ve had America exactly where they wanted us.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘They would steal technology</strong> from a major American corporation.’</li><li><strong>‘And the corporation</strong> would tell the U.S. government, “Please don’t do anything about it. I don’t want to make China unhappy because I don’t want to lose the market share I have in China. I don’t want the regulators coming in and doing a dawn raid on my company for antitrust or pricing issues.”’</li><li><strong>‘They were scared of China</strong> as much as they were focused on the market.’</li><li><strong>‘China had America</strong> in a really good position and they overreached.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Xi has to</strong> keep things going.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘China has a lot</strong> of economic problems with debt and many other things and they have to grow out of their problems. It’s sort of the only solution they have.’</li><li><strong>‘If the trade war</strong> really hits Chinese growth, that’s a problem.’</li></ul><e></e><p><img style="width:20px;margin-left:-25px;position: absolute;" src="" alt="CHINADebate"><em>‘How does the threat of Mexican tariffs affect the squeeze the U.S. is already facing?’</em></p><p><strong>‘Just when we need allies</strong> to work with on China, Trump’s trying to alienate every country he can. It’s absolutely ridiculous.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘You’ve got to remember,</strong> a lot of these countries have the same problems with China that we do, and they would be very ready to work with us if we weren’t spending all of our time trying to push them away.’</li><li><strong>‘Companies</strong> are moving production out of China to Mexico – if they see that Mexico is going to have a tariff they can’t deal with, they’ll have to reconnoiter and focus on Indonesia or Thailand or the Philippines.’</li><li><strong>‘That business</strong> is not going to be coming to America.’</li></ul></td></tr>

4. ‘China's Private Firms Continue to Struggle’: Nick Lardy

<tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="CHINADebate"></a></td></tr></tbody></table></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt"></p><p><strong>‘The plight of China’s private firms,</strong> which produce about two-thirds of China’s GDP, has received widespread attention, as private credit to these firms has lagged behind the flow to state-owned enterprises,’ writes PIIE’s Nick Lardy in <a href="" target="_blank">‘China’s Private Firms Continue to Struggle.’</a></p><ul><li><strong>‘The latest data show</strong> that this trend has continued despite pledges by Chinese leadership to support lending to private sector enterprises.'</li></ul><p><strong>‘One metric commonly</strong> taken as a proxy for private firm access to credit is bank lending to micro and small enterprises (MSEs).’</p><ul><li><strong>‘But this</strong> measure is flawed.’</li><li><strong>‘For years</strong> in which the central bank has presented bank borrowing by firm size cross-classified by ownership, only about a quarter of new loans to MSEs are to private companies while two-thirds are to state companies.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘A better proxy metric</strong> is lending to “people-run” (民营) firms, frequently mistranslated as private.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘The People’s Bank of China’s coverage</strong> of people-run entities includes lending to private, collective, as well as foreign firms, with private accounting for about two-thirds of the total.’</li><li><strong>‘On this metric,</strong> the flow of loans to private firms continues to lag.’</li><li><strong>‘Loans to people-run firms</strong> in the first quarter of 2019 rose only 6.7 percent, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">statement by central bank deputy governor Chen Yulu</a>.’</li><li><strong>‘This is half</strong> the 13.7 percent pace of growth of overall bank lending.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘The flow of bank credit</strong> to private firms collapsed after 2013, shortly after President Xi Jinping came to power (see figure below).’</p><a href="" target="_blank"><span style="margin:20px auto;"><img src="" alt="CHINADebate"></span></a><p><strong>‘Private firms</strong> partially compensated by turning to shadow banks.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘But starting in 2017, </strong>China’s deleveraging campaign reduced lending by these less well-regulated institutions.’</li><li><strong>‘Consequently,</strong> the growth of private firms has slowed relative to state firms, dampening China’s growth.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘And as shadow banks </strong>called in their loans, many private listed companies were left with no choice but to sell shares, in many cases to better financed state firms.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘In the process,</strong> some private firms were nationalized as state entities became majority owners.’</li><li><strong>‘And large numbers</strong> of non-listed private firms exited, many through bankruptcy.’</li></ul></td></tr>

5. ‘Why is China so interested in building and buying ports?’: Deborah Bräutigam

<tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><a href="" target="_blank"><img style="width:100%" src="" alt="CHINADebate"></a></td></tr></tbody></table></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt">‘Port projects were one of China’s top priorities when the country began to turn away from Mao’s isolated communism. Between 1980 and 2000, China built more than 184 new ports in China to support its rapidly expanding economy.’ </p><p><em>‘Port projects were one of China’s top priorities when the country began to turn away from Mao’s isolated communism. Between 1980 and 2000, China built </em><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>more than 184 new ports</em></a><em> in China to support its rapidly expanding economy.’ </em></p><p><strong>China has been</strong> building and investing in ports around the world.</p><ul><li><strong>And there</strong> has been a lot of handwringing – some justified, some not.</li><li><strong><a href="" target="_blank">Deborah Bräutigam</a></strong> gives context to the debate by asking and answering the question: Why is China so interested in building and buying ports?</li><li><strong>This is just one section</strong> of her excellent analysis, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">‘Misdiagnosing the Chinese Infrastructure Push,’</a> – you should read it all!</li><li><strong>For a deep analysis </strong>of China maritime strategy and Europe, see <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">‘Blue China: Navigating the Maritime Silk Road to Europe,’</a> from the European Council on Foreign Relations.</li></ul><p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>Deborah Bräutigam</strong></a> is the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and Director of the International Development Program, and the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).</p><e></e><p><strong>Some ‘believe that China</strong> is predominately interested in the strategic payoffs of the BRI: using its economic muscle for political leverage, rewriting business rules and practices developed by the West, even military expansion,’ writes <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>Deborah Bräutigam</strong></a><strong>.</strong></p><p><strong>‘China’s interest in overseas ports</strong> is central to many of these concerns.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Investment by Chinese companies</strong> in ports in Greece and elsewhere in southern Europe is portrayed as a “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Trojan Horse</a>” entering through Europe’s “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">soft underbelly</a>.”’</li><li><strong>‘Though port investments</strong> with the potential for dual commercial and military use, China may be trying to “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">stealthily expand</a>” its military presence along the ancient trading routes and vital shipping lanes.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘There are valid reasons</strong> for heightened concern about Chinese engagement.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Most pressingly,</strong> in July 2017, the Chinese opened their first overseas military base in the strategic country of Djibouti on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the gateway to Egypt’s Suez Canal.’</li><li><strong>‘Only seven miles</strong> from the U.S. base at Camp Lemonnier, the Chinese naval base has raised suspicions about whether China’s rise will remain peaceful.</li></ul><p><strong>‘However,</strong> the evidence so far shows little reason for alarm regarding the security implications of Chinese companies’ advance into maritime and associated infrastructure projects across the Belt and Road and beyond.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘With very few exceptions,</strong> the logic of China’s growing presence in this arena can be explained primarily as commercial activities, albeit with an East Asian twist of “crony capitalism” that is at the heart of the BRI’s actual risks.’</li></ul><p><strong>So ‘why is China</strong> so interested in building and buying ports?’</p><ul><li><strong>‘China’s own history</strong> provides insight here.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Port projects</strong> were one of China’s top priorities when the country began to turn away from Mao’s isolated communism.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Between 1980 and 2000,</strong> China built <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">more than 184 new ports</a> in China to support its rapidly expanding economy.’</li><li><strong>‘Most of these</strong> came to have industrial parks and special economic zones nearby, where manufacturers could cluster and easily export.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Because new ports</strong> are usually capital-intensive and have low rates of return due to their lengthy start-up periods, China gave preference to joint ventures with foreign firms expected to bring in capital and operating efficiencies.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Since then,</strong> Chinese ports have hosted numerous foreign investors, including the Danish firm Maersk, British firms P&O and Swire, CSX World Terminals (once upon a time an American firm), and the Port of Singapore Authority.’</li><li><strong>‘As early as 2001,</strong> the year that China joined the WTO, 25 container terminals in China were jointly owned, managed, or operated by transnational corporations.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Over the past several decades,</strong> ports in many nations have been privatized and globalized, so Chinese port business is not remotely an outlier in the present international environment.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Even in the United States</strong> foreign companies operate <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">most container terminals</a>.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Global shipping</strong> is increasingly concentrated.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘The Danish shipping firm </strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>Maersk</strong></a> and its subsidiary APM Terminals have investments in 172 ports and inland terminals in 57 countries.’</li><li><strong>‘Switzerland’s</strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC)</a> runs 54 terminals in 29 countries. Dubai’s DP World operates 77 ports in 40 countries.’</li><li><strong>‘A French firm,</strong> Bolloré Ports, has <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">21 port concessions in Africa</a>.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘As growth slows</strong> in their home ports, Chinese shipping and port management corporations are looking abroad.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘One of the largest</strong>, China Merchants Port Holdings (CMPort), became a global company in 2012 through a joint venture—Terminal Link—with French firm CMA CGM, the world’s third largest container shipping company.’</li><li><strong>‘‘Through its shares in Terminal Link,</strong> CMPort now has port <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">investments in 15 countries</a>.’</li><li><strong>‘“Our growth engine</strong> will and must come from overseas,” <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">CMPort observed in 2015</a>.’</li></ul><e></e><p><strong>'In most cases,</strong> Chinese investors in European ports have <a href="" target="_blank">minority positions</a> in joint ventures with European and other firms.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Rare exceptions</strong> include the Piraeus Container Terminal in Greece and the Zeebrugge Terminal in Belgium, both of which are 100 percent owned by the Chinese firm COSCO.’</li><li><strong>‘It “makes good business sense</strong> for Chinese players to acquire overseas port assets,” Neil Davidson, a senior analyst at Drewry, a London-based maritime research consulting firm, <a href="" target="_blank">told a reporter</a>. “I don’t think European countries feel threatened because in almost all cases the landlord function remains in the hands of the local countries.”’</li></ul><img style="width:100%" src="" alt="CHINADebate"><p><strong>‘Just as China needed</strong> to learn from foreign firms, other countries are now eager for Chinese capital and operational know-how.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘CMPort and other Chinese firms</strong> are now poised to be the foreign firms bringing this in.’</li><li><strong>‘The Chinese group</strong> China Harbor Engineering Corporation (CHEC) has a joint venture with CMA CGM to operate a new container terminal in Kribi, Cameroon.’</li><li><strong>‘And CMPort</strong> has partnered with another French firm—Bolloré Ports—to run <a href="" target="_blank">Tin Can Island Port</a>, the second busiest port in Nigeria.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘A Chinese company</strong> runs one of the terminals at the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest container port in the United States.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Another Chinese firm</strong> owns a third of the largest container terminal in Taiwan.’</li></ul></td></tr>