Washington may bluster but cannot stifle the Chinese economy

But, at the same time, it is hard to see how anyone with a modicum of historical knowledge could fail to be concerned by a combination of increased domestic repression, the centralisation of power in one man, rapidly increased military spending and rhetoric about enlarging China’s role in the world.

What the US requires is a viable strategy for addressing its legitimate grievances. Unfortunately neither rage nor proclamation constitutes such a strategy. A workable approach would involve feasible objectives clearly conveyed and supported by carrots and sticks, along with a willingness to define and accept success.

At the heart of the US’s problem in defining an economic strategy towards China is the following awkward fact. Suppose China had been fully compliant with every trade and investment rule and had been as open to the world as the most open countries at its income level. China might have grown faster because it reformed more rapidly or it might have grown more slowly because of reduced subsidies or more foreign competition. But it is highly unlikely that its growth rate would have been altered by as much as 1 percentage point.