Magazine August 13, 2018, Issue

Who Lost China?

President Bill Clinton speaks about trade with China on the South Lawn of the White House in October 2000. (William Philpott/Reuters)
Both parties and most economists accepted Beijing’s ‘innovation mercantilism’

After World War II, the American foreign-policy establishment was caught up in an intense debate: “Who lost China?” Someone had to be blamed for Mao’s takeover. Today we are hearing the stirrings of a new debate: “Who lost China a second time?” China is marching toward global technological leadership and increasingly challenges the United States both economically and militarily in what Michael Lind has termed Cold War II. Who was responsible for letting this happen?

At one level, China lost China. As Michael Pillsbury writes in The Hundred-Year Marathon, China has had a strategy to supplant the United States as the

Robert D. Atkinson — Mr. Atkinson is the president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and a co-author, with Michael Lind, of Big Is Beautiful: Debunking the Myth of Small Business.

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