This is the inside story of the US–China trade war, how relations between these superpowers unraveled, darkening prospects for global peace and prosperity, as told by two Wall Street Journal reporters, one based in Washington, D.C., the other in Beijing, who have had more access to the decision makers in the White House and in China’s Zhongnanhai leadership compound than anyone else.
The trade battle between China and the U.S. didn’t start with Trump and won’t end with him, argue Bob Davis and Lingling Wei. The two countries have a long and fraught political and economic history which has become more contentious over the past three years—an escalation that has negatively impacted both countries' economies and the world at large—and holds the potential for even more uncertainty and disruption.
How did this stand-off happen? How much are U.S. presidents and officials who haven't effectively confronted or negotiated with China to blame? What role have Chinese leaders, and U.S. business leaders who for decades acted as Beijing’s lobbyists in Washington, played in driving tensions between the two countries?
Superpower Showdown is the story of a romance gone bad. Uniquely positioned to tell the story, Davis and Wei have conducted hundreds of interviews with government and business officials in both nations over the seven years they have worked together writing for the Wall Street Journal. Analyzing U.S.–China relations, they explain how we have reached this tipping point, and look at where we could be headed. Vivid and provocative, Superpower Showdown will help readers understand the context of the trade war and prepare them for what may come next.
Wall Street Journal reporters Davis and Wei deliver an essential look at recent U.S.-Chinese relations, up through the January 2020 trade deal. Going back to the beginnings of China's economic rise in the 1980s, they trace the deterioration in the country's relationship with the U.S., which Beijing officials once likened to an "old married couple who needed each other, even though they might bicker." Davis and Wei remind readers that Bill Clinton, "now seen as the great globalizer," initially ran as an advocate for reviving U.S. manufacturing and as a harsh critic of China's human-rights record, only to forge close economic ties to the country once in office. The potentially dry subject matter is made vivid by the authors' references to relevant aspects of their family backgrounds Wei's as the granddaughter of a veteran of Mao's Long March, and Davis's as the son of a factory owner who encountered intractable competition from Asian manufacturing and by portraits of such key players as Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro. They end by listing options for the next U.S. president, whether Trump or Joe Biden, to take on China, including more multilateral use of tariffs abroad, and greater use of tariffs at home. This is required reading for anyone concerned about America's economic future.