I try to read most new books on China, because I think the growth of China on the world stage will continue for some time and eventually conflict with America’s interests. Whether the conflict turns to cooperation or serious difficulty remains to be seen, but keeping abreast of what is happening in China is essential for today’s leaders.
A new book, Is China Buying the World? by Peter Nolan, is an interesting addition to the field and adds several key ideas to the dialogue. First, it makes the case that no, China is not buying the world any more than Japan bought it in the 1980s (despite widespread fears that this was occurring).
Second, however, China is certainly growing economically and in world influence. Chinese firms have purchased ownership in a number of companies around the advanced world, as well as tying up access to a lot of natural resources in the developing world. And numerous multi-national companies have heavily invested in China. This growth will likely continue, and even expand.
Third, China’s major challenge is restricted access to oil and energy. As it grows, its thirst for energy will continue to increase and drive its international business expansion.
Fourth, China wants to be a much bigger player on the world scene, and it is following a specific strategy for global influence. This strategy includes major investments in two key sectors of the world economy, banking and the aerospace industry.
Chinese leaders hope that together, these things — increased investment in the developing world, increased ownership of international resources especially oil, growing global investment in China, increased ownership in multi-national companies, major growth of Chinese influence in the banking and aerospace sectors — will significantly strengthen China’s world role.
Fifth, advances in the aerospace industry are significant because of the close ties between military and business technologies and projects. As China increases its role in this endeavor, along with banking, it becomes more powerful economically, technologically and, if it chooses, militarily.
This book is a detailed and important read for anyone who cares about the future of the big powers in world relations. More to the point, more people need to read and think more about the specific issues currently at play in China’s growth.