Is China Buying the World?
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China has become the world's second biggest economy and its largest exporter. It possesses the world's largest foreign exchange reserves and has 29 companies in the FT 500 list of the world's largest companies. ‘China's Rise' preoccupies the global media, which regularly carry articles suggesting that it is using its financial resources to ‘buy the world'.
Is there any truth to this idea? Or is this just scaremongering by Western commentators who have little interest in a balanced presentation of China's role in the global political economy?
In this short book Peter Nolan - one of the leading international experts on China and the global economy - probes behind the media rhetoric and shows that the idea that China is buying the world is a myth. Since the 1970s the global business revolution has resulted in an unprecedented degree of industrial concentration. Giant firms from high income countries with leading technologies and brands have greatly increased their investments in developing countries, with China at the forefront. Multinational companies account for over two-thirds of China's high technology output and over ninety percent of its high technology exports. Global firms are deep inside the Chinese business system and are pressing China hard to be permitted to increase their presence without restraints.
By contrast, Chinese firms have a negligible presence in the high-income countries - in other words, we are ‘inside them' but they are not yet ‘inside us'. China's 70-odd ‘national champion' firms are protected by the government through state ownership and other support measures. They are in industries such as banking, metals, mining, oil, power, construction, transport, and telecommunications, which tend to make use of high technology products rather than produce these products themselves. Their growth has been based on the rapidly growing home market. China has been unsuccessful so far in its efforts to nurture a group of globally competitive firms with leading global technologies and brands. Whether it will be successful in the future is an open question.
This balanced analysis replaces rhetoric with evidence and argument. It provides a much-needed perspective on current debates about China's growing power and it will contribute to a constructive dialogue between China and the West.
assets of th e world's 100 largest multinational companies are 57 per cent of their toral assets, foreign employment amounts to 58 per cent of total employment, and foreign sales amount to 61 pcr cent of total sa les (UNCTAD, 2010). Intertwining of the business systems of high-income countries: (1 have you within me mul you have me within YOll ' During the cra of capitalist globalization the business struc tures of developed countries became in creas ingl y intc[nvincd. Firms with their
tion s se rvice companies . .Most of these o perate in protected domcstic markets and arc o ften state-owned enterpri ses which ca nn or be acquired by multin~Hional co mpanies . ]Vlorcovcr, th ese arc secto rs r.hat mainl y make use o f high technology but do no t t.hemselves ge nerate new techno logy . In th e FT 500 (20'10) there we re no firm s at all fro m develop ing counnies in aerospace, chemica ls, electronic and electrica.l equipment, rctail , gas, water and utilities, hea lth carc,
lmost all intcrnati o nal cx perts o n th e ' rra nsitio n' fr o m central planning. 94 Wh o are They' Tob ie 12 Bala nce between China's inflows and o utflows o f FO I ($ n111Iion) 2000 FDI inflows FDl outflows Ou tflows minus inflows FDI inwa rd stock FDI Dun-Y ard stock 2005 2009 40,715 916 - 39,799 72 ,406 12,261 - 60, 145 83,521 22,469 - 6 /,052 95,000 48,0 00 - 47,000 193,34 8 27,768 272,094 5 7,206 327,087 95,799 473,083 229,600 Ou tward stock minus ill ward stock -
meantime opposition grew from both shareholders and politicians. High-profile Australian politicians opposed it on the grounds that it would allow a foreign state-backed enterprise to own a strategic stake in the country's biggest natural resource asset and would allow a member of the Chinese Communist Party to sit on the Rio Tinto board. Amid heavy pressure, the board of Rio Tinto decided to abandon the deal before the ruling by the Australian government. The decision caused a furore in China,
positions deep within the value chain. The question of who are 'we' and who are 'they' is far from resolved. China has not yet bought [he world and shows linie sign of doing so in the near future. 143 References BCG (Bosro n Co nsultin g Gro up ) (2009 ) lVealth Markets ill China. Beijing: BeG . BERR (Department fo r Business Enterprise and Regulato ry Refor m) (2008) Th e 2008 R& D Scoreboard . London: BERR . SIS (D epartm ent fo r Busin ess Inn ovatio n and Skil ls) (2009) Th e 2009 R& D