How Not to Win Allies and Influence Geopolitics
China, it is often said, has mastered the art of economic statecraft. Observers routinely worry that by throwing around its ever-growing economic weight, the country is managing to buy goodwill and influence. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has exploited its dominance of manufacturing supply chains to win favor by donating masks and now vaccines to foreign countries. And it has long used unfair state subsidies to tilt the playing field in favor of Chinese companies.
Beijing has also weaponized its expanding trade relations. China overtook the United States as the top global trader in 2013, and it is now the leading source of imports for about 35 countries and the top destination of exports for about 25 countries. The Chinese government has not hesitated to leverage access to its consumer market to pressure foreign governments and firms to obey its wishes.