History was heralded when China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, for good reason: the world’s most populous nation was entering the rules-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 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.