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In China, the government is the economy

In China, the government is the economy

January 13, 2022 5:26 PM ET

Containers stacked at a port in Lianyungang, China in December 2021.


str/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

China misses target in 2020 trade deal(US News, Jan. 3) provides an informative account of how China failed to stick to its side of the 2020 US-China trade deal deal to buy US goods. Who is the buyer called “China”: private companies or the Chinese government? The Chinese government runs China like a giant corporation. The line between the state and private companies is blurred at best. The way the Chinese government treats companies like Didi and Alibaba is more like managing departments of China, Inc.

Ironically, the 2020 trade deal legitimized the Chinese government’s interference and strengthened its power, while we complain to the Chinese government that it interferes too much with the economy.

I agree with Scott Kennedy, who argued that the US should push China toward a market-oriented economy and not set purchase targets that effectively strengthen Chinese state control of the economy. I would add that pushing for such changes will be painful and costly for the US, as the Chinese government will retaliate and damage US business and consumers in the short term.

This may be why the Biden administration has given up pushing for systemic change in China. But time is not on our side, because as the Chinese economy grows faster, the Chinese government will become more powerful. Any policy of “kicking the eye on the road” is suicidal.

Prof. dr. Shaomin Lie

Old Dominion University

Norfolk, Va.

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Appeared in the January 14, 2022 print edition as “Trade Deal Cements the Power of ‘China, Inc.’.”