State capitalism. Socialism with Chinese characteristics A socialist market economy. There have been numerous labels applied to the Chinese economy. However, none seems to capture the essentially predatory and at times surreal nature of the economy – nor the often bruising and mind-bending experience of doing business with the Middle Kingdom. China’s economy has been presented as a technocratic model to be emulated, but also as an enormous Ponzi-style bubble which defies economic gravity. To admirers it has pulled hundreds of millions out of poverty (a claim fundamental to Party legitimacy); to critics the achievements are exaggerated, the costs enormous, and a reckoning inevitable. The vicissitudes of ‘reform and opening’ are extensively studied, but poorly understood. ‘Reform and opening’ was never a coherent policy. The survival of the Communist Party was always fundamental.
Rules and agreements mean little. Markets are distorted, statistics fabricated, foreign industrial secrets and technology systematically stolen. Companies and entrepreneurs, foreign and domestic, are bullied – often with the collusion of the victims themselves. The Party is in every boardroom and lab. Ideology (and national security) are now more paramount than ever. The Party wants to control what companies think as well as what they do. Xi Jinping dreams of world leadership in key technologies and of China becoming the world’s preeminent economic, technological and military power. Openings to foreign business are primarily designed to serve that end. Military and security needs are closely integrated into the wider economy. This book is the story of China’s vampire economy, and the single-minded effort by the Party to bend economics and business to its own will and ambition. It is a predator. Businesses thrive or die at its will. In many ways contemporary China now shares the characteristics of the pre-war Nazi economy. This book will:
Ian Williams is a journalist by training, with extensive experience living and working in China, and a solid grounding in technology. He wrote about popular science for the Sunday Times, before becoming that newspaper’s business correspondent. He then moved to television, first with Channel 4 News and most recently with NBC News.
For twenty-five years he was a foreign correspondent, based first in Russia and then in the Far East. His more recent assignments have been to bureaus in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Beijing. He has also covered conflicts in the Balkans, the Middle East and Ukrain...
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