China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 was heralded as historic, and for good reason: the world's most populous nation was joining the rule-based system that has governed international commerce since World War II. But the full ramifications of that event are only now becoming apparent, as the Chinese economic juggernaut has evolved in unanticipated and profoundly troublesome ways.
In this book, journalist Paul Blustein chronicles the contentious process resulting in China's WTO membership and the transformative changes that followed, both good and bad - for China, for its trading partners, and for the global trading system as a whole. The book recounts how China opened its markets and underwent far-reaching reforms that fuelled its economic takeoff, but then adopted policies - a cheap currency and heavy-handed state intervention - that unfairly disadvantaged foreign competitors and circumvented WTO rules. Events took a potentially catastrophic turn in 2018 with the eruption of a trade war between China and the United States, which has brought the trading system to a breaking point. Regardless of how the latest confrontation unfolds, the world will be grappling for decades with the challenges posed by China Inc.
Paul Blustein, a CIGI senior fellow, is a former staff writer for the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal and was previously a journalist in residence at the Brookings Institution.