- Nov 4, 2011
- Reaction score
The rest of the world doesn’t see China the same way we do: Fareed Zakaria
By Fareed Zakaria
June 9, 2023 at 6:15 a.m. EDT
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, center, claps after posing for a group photo during the ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bangkok on July 31, 2019. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP)
nt a glimpse into the future, come to Berlin and walk down Kurfürstendamm, the bustling avenue often described as the city’s Champs-Élysées. At one of the most prominent corners sits a new car showroom unlike any I have ever seen: sleek, elegant, multistoried, with a cafe, design center, showrooms and more. As you enter, you see what looks like a Bugatti or a Ferrari, except more stylish. It’s an EP9, a top-of-the-line racecar that has been sold to a handful of customers for about $3 million each. The company behind it is Nio, one of China’s new carmakers, which is going to take the world by storm.
Ten years ago, China exported a relatively small number of cars. Today, it is the world’s leading exporter of automobiles, handily ousting Japan from that position. It is especially strong in electric vehicles. Two of every three EVs made in the world are made in China. As we think about China’s weaknesses these days (and it has several), it is worth remembering China’s formidable strengths and the degree to which it is intertwined into the global economy. Nio’s cars are designed in Munich. It has research and development centers in San Jose and Oxford, England, as well as in Beijing and Shanghai. It assembles vehicles in Hefei, China.
Europe is an interesting place to think about China. I traveled to three European countries this week (Germany, Italy and Britain), and everywhere, the conversation turned to Washington’s policies toward China. Most of the political figures I spoke with were apprehensive. They were strongly behind the Biden administration’s policies toward Russia and credited President Biden with uniting the West and infusing it with strategic clarity and purpose. They were far more worried about policy toward China and more generally about Biden’s new international economic policies, as outlined recently by national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
Former British prime minister Gordon Brown explained the European dilemma. “Europe needs an industrial policy, but it cannot afford to mimic the [Biden] administration’s protectionism,” he told me. “For Europe, trade is vital; its prosperity is dependent on trade with the rest of the world, including China, in a way that America’s is not. [Unlike America, Europe] imports energy and is not self-sufficient. Despite the surface agreement across the Atlantic, this could become a growing divide.”
He acknowledged that the Biden administration has made moves to expand trade ties, but he expressed concern that all of them are bilateral or regional efforts that might undercut global trade. They come, he said, “at the expense of any real discussion of what a modern multilateralist order would look like.” Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former prime minister of Denmark, concurred. “Europe cannot divorce itself from China,” she explained. “That would be the end of globalization. That is why we want to de-risk, not decouple.”