I’ve spent the weekend devouring and digesting The War for China’s Wallet. Shaun Rein takes a deep dive into China’s economic strategy, stability, and appeal to developing nations, as well as a timely critique of America’s weakness on all of these accounts.
In my notes, I began using the shorthand WCW I, as this is likely the first of many iterations of China wielding its economic weapons.
Shaun wisely advises governments and corporations alike to be strong over conciliatory, in order to earn the respect of the Chinese. Yet, this reveals a sobering reality: we must now earn the respect of the Chinese.
With trillions of consumer dollars at stake, WCW I is being waged squarely in the Chinese arena. Shaun generously refers to the authors of current US policy as “intellectuals”. Yet, these ideologues remain entangled in the outdated narrative of China’s economy being exclusively export-oriented.
Shaun provides a clear roadmap for waging WCW I. Yet, the rules of engagement are largely out of our hands. We have become reactionaries, much like the paper tigers described by Mao.
It appears WCW I is largely about profit and influence. Yet, if the US does not begin to develop economic strategies independent of the Chinese, the stakes of WCW II may be far greater.