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It’s China’s World (fortune.com)
58 points by known 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 61 comments



“American companies account for 121 of the world’s largest corporations by revenue. Chinese companies account for 129 (including 10 Taiwanese companies).”

Bit of a stretch to include Taiwan here ... sure it is ethnically Chinese but more of an ally of the us than mainland China at this point.


It's not just a stretch, it's ridiculous. It's a fact made up to make their narrative fit because it wouldn't work if it was 119 vs. 121

Taiwan is an entirely different entity politically no matter if you subscribe to the one China doctrine. China has little to no control over it and therefore derives no power from its companies.


> China has no control over it

This is quite a stretch too. The relationship and interdependence of the two is very complicated. China is one of the largest market to which Taiwan exports their goods (and in large part, the culture) and China has used this to pressure Taiwan in the past.


The argument that ROC may be considered part of PRC because PRC is an important business partner to me doesn’t seem to hold water.

How is it different as opposed to, say, Russia and Ukraine? Mutual trade is big and one player may have more leverage (as is almost always the case with two countries in proximity to each other), should we count Ukraine’s stats in favor of Russia’s?

In both cases there are similarities in language and ethnicity, and in case of Taiwan there additionally are US military troops stationed.


Ethnic, linguistic, and cultural ties tend to have great staying power (see US-Britain, the unification of Germany and Italy, Balkan conflicts, and on and on). This is all even more true when the countries are close geographically.

Counting the power of Taiwan for China and Ukraine for Russia is likely more predictive of the future than not counting them. Lines on a map and citizenship papers are easier to redo than centuries (millenia for China/Taiwan) of culture/language.

This is NOT an endorsement of China taking over Taiwan, which I do NOT want and think would be a bad thing.


> Counting the power of Taiwan for China and Ukraine for Russia is likely more predictive of the future than not counting them.

More predictive in what regard? The only way I can see it being usefully predictive is if you count on the larger entity annexing the smaller one. An I missing something?


You can exert power through hegemony without annexing.


In the part that I quoted “power”, I believe, stands for economical strength. How can it be useful or at all correct to count economical strength of, say, Kazakhstan (as another example) as part of Russia’s stats, if the former is developing and trading independently?

That’s why I object to article’s angle: it uses “China” to refer to an aggregate in one case (lumping ROC and PRC together), and to PRC in another case (quoting their president and intentions to dominate global economy).

Counting ROC in PRC’s favor serves to tip the numbers and make article’s premise seem more compelling, but since PRC and ROC are separate economies the premise is false. It almost makes it look like a major business publication is playing a political game.


Russia already exerts a lot of economic influence over Kazakhstan, so this example actually goes the other way.

There are MANY ways to derive benefit from a relationship between countries: it’s not binary annex/not-annexed.


If we're comparing culteral/linguistic spheres of influence, then the US side should also include Canada, the UK, Australia, etc.


Ok, but then by that logic, Mexican and Canadian companies should count to the USA total. After all, the US is their largest export market and the USA frequently puts diplomatic and economic pressures on her neighbours.


Under the one-china-policy endorsed by the United States Taiwan is not a sovereign state, in contrast to Mexico and Canada, with the recognition of Taiwan steadily falling. This is a strange comparison.


That’s misrepresenting the US position

“The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China.”


> Under the one-china-policy endorsed by the United States Taiwan is not a sovereign state

That's incorrect.

The US does not endorse that Taiwan is owned by China and that there is only one China (which includes Taiwan), in the terms that China recognizes it. The US policy is to recognize China's position, and that is all it represents. If your premise were correct, the US would not be selling military weapons to Taiwan to defense itself from China.

This explains it moderately well:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-38285354

> What is the 'One China' policy?

> It is the diplomatic acknowledgement of China's position that there is only one Chinese government. Under the policy, the US recognises and has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day.

> The One China policy is a key cornerstone of Sino-US relations. It is also a fundamental bedrock of Chinese policy-making and diplomacy. However, it is distinct from the One China principle, whereby China insists Taiwan is an inalienable part of one China to be reunified one day.

> The US policy is not an endorsement of Beijing's position and indeed as part of the policy, Washington maintains a "robust unofficial" relationship with Taiwan, including continued arms sales to the island so that it can defend itself.


“there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China”

Remember that there are two sovereign states that call themselves China


This gets into nuanced territory where words fail. When the US sells arms to a rebel group, does that mean the US recognizes that the rebels are a sovereign state, or a a sovereign non-state military entity, or what?

At the end of the day, legal structures are convenient fictions with no mother nature or computer compiler to check the logic for consistency or completeness.


> At the end of the day, legal structures are convenient fictions

Exactly. Most countries have relations with Taiwan, and they only keep their stances ambiguous to not lose business with PRC.

Fun example is Nauru, which accepted $130 million from PRC to abandon relations with ROC, and then a couple years later promptly did a 180-degree turn and stood with ROC again.


It's not a strange comparison, it's simply applying the parent comment's standards:

> The relationship and interdependence of the two is very complicated. [The US] is one of the largest market to which [Canada] exports their goods (and in large part, the culture) and [the USA] has used this to pressure [Canada] in the past.


Yes but the CCP doesn't run Taiwan. You could say China has control over Australia and the United States for the same reason but you wouldn't include them in China either.


> You could say China has control over Australia and the United States for the same reason

I think that's a bit disingenuous. No-one would seriously claim that those two countries are beholden to China in anything other than trade. Meanwhile Taiwan has a freaking "independence movement". Would there be an independence movement if a country is truly independent already? They call themselves the Republic of China for pete's sake. A fact, needless to say, not lost on the mainlanders.

I'm not any kind of expert but I know enough that it's not as simple as "separate country, game over". Every decision Taiwan makes is taken with careful consideration of the mainland's reaction. And I know exactly what the mainlanders think of Taiwan - renegade island to be brought to heel ASAP. Probably not by brute force - although that possibility always lurks, and no-one would stop them. No, they'll do it the Chinese way - long-game manipulation until they hold all the cards. There's no if here, there's simply when.

Some countries simply can't exist in the long term, especially when they're right next to a much larger party with designs on them - doubly so if there's some sort of history. Ukraine was/is one. HK too. The clock is ticking for DPRK, it's just a question of who's going to own the mess afterwards. The clock is set further out for Taiwan but.. the writing on the wall is so clear you could read it from space.

Don't get me wrong, I think all of this sucks. I love Taiwan and don't want to see it subsumed into the Borg. That doesn't really change anything, though.


> Some countries simply can't exist in the long term, especially when they're right next to a much larger party with designs on them - doubly so if there's some sort of history. Ukraine was/is one.

If we expand the Ukraine/Russia example to other neighbors in the region for whom Russia is a big trade partner and who share linguistic/ethnic roots, do you claim none of those countries can exist long term and a USSR-like territory is about to be reestablished?

In reality, some of those countries (say Kazakhstan) are growing richer and more influential. There are always other trade partners—Ukraine is increasingly trading with Europe, and global trade isn’t going anywhere.

Taiwan has future, even if it requires some strategic thinking and inventiveness.

The situation with Hong Kong is very different, it is not a country in nearly as much sense of the word as Taiwan is. It was in fact officially ceded to PRC—though now that PRC is no longer recognizing the corresponding documents they signed in 1997, maybe there is some hope for Hong Kong independence indeed!


Hello from HK :). Quick nitpick: the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984 between Margaret Thatcher and Zhao Ziyang (really on behalf of Deng Xiaoping). 1997 was the year of the "handover."


Hello from HK as well! I stand corrected as far as the date of signing the document goes.


That independence movement is as much about giving up their own claims on the mainland and continuing as an independent nation without ambitions to one day kick out the poser government currently controlling the PRC as anything else.

All these years later, Taiwan still maintains their claims, actually they maintain technically larger claims on the mainland past PRC borders than even the PRC claims.


Original comment:

> China is one of the largest market to which Taiwan exports their goods (and in large part, the culture) and China has used this to pressure Taiwan in the past.

My comment:

> You could say China has control over Australia and the United States for the same reason

Your comment:

> No-one would seriously claim that those two countries are beholden to China in anything other than trade.

Totally agreed, but you considered trade sufficient in your original comment.


> Taiwan is an entirely different entity politically not matter if you subscribe to the one China doctrine.

That's true in the same way as North Korea is an entirely different political entity from South Korea (for example).


Not the "same". NK and SK both have stronger international recognition then Taiwan does.

NK is censured and shunned by many states, but it's independence isn't challenged. SK isn't challenged either.


You're missing the point.

The situation is the same. The difference in the case of China is that one side is strong enough to influence the international community's recognition of the other side.

The point being that mainland China + Taiwan constitute the 'Chinese sphere' so to speak. The formal position of both sides on many international issues is not very different. For example, although mainland China gets a lot of flack for its claims in the South China Sea, Taiwan has the same claims because both sides agree that this area should be under Chinese sovereignty.


The 5 electronics conmpanies have their factories in China, and the Fortune probably wanted to avoid China's wrath from territorial claims more than shoehorning this argument.

Just like this kind of glorious China stories play right into China's palate.


>It's a fact made up to make their narrative fit because it wouldn't work if it was 119 vs. 121

Agree.

If the author combined a few unrelated stats to create this fact it means that it's not a fact.


It's not a stretch given majority of those companies are economically dependent on China as China is dependent on them, also some of their major customers are in China. That's the reason Taiwan selected KMT to forge closer ties with China during this elections. In Kaohsiung which was an impenetrable constituency for KMT, Han Kuo-yu won by a landslide based on closer economic ties with China to bring jobs as the main issue.

Taiwan and China are politically different but economically both are intertwined be it Foxconn, Asus, Quanta, Winstron, Gigabyte or TSMC etc.

So including those 10 within greater China is correct.

They are political ally of USA and economic ally of China.

It's again a minority opinion against the majority of the HN community so this comment might be downvoted as usual.


There are strong hints that Han Kuo-yu's victory was helped by Chinese influenced media companies, e. g. here: https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/06/28/taiwan-braces-pro-chin...

As of the last months, Han Kuo-yu's support is steadily declining.

But most importantly, it is clear beyond any doubt that >90% of all Taiwanese do not want to be part of the CCP ruled China.


Have very close friends in Taiwan and among majority (especially the middle aged and older generation) its an accepted fact that the chance Taiwan had to declare itself sovereign state, independent of China has already passed. Most are hoping to keep the status quo and enjoy the existing political freedom, instead of endless fights and economic ruin.

It was Chiang Kai-Shek's decision for Taiwan to quit United Nations in 1971 due to insistence on "One China policy" [1][2]. Today China demands the acceptance of same One China policy for which Chiang Kai-Shek fought.

In my view Taiwan can keep its political structure along with its economic ties with China, it doesn't need to change. But its not in the interest of many nations. If Taiwan becomes a separate entity the situation will be worse like it's happening between India and Pakistan where both countries are suffering due to enmity although both were one country for thousands of years.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_General_Assembl...

[2] http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2005/10/...


I mean, 119 vs 121 is still impressive, if true. With China’s momentum, I wouldn’t be surprised if they pass the US soonish.

That said, any article that includes Taiwan as part of China immediately makes me think it’s a propaganda piece.


It's not propaganda so much as not letting inconvenient facts get in the way of a good story.

Lots of ways to looks at numbers. China has 3x the population of US, so should we divide the company count by 3? Does number of companies matter, or market cap? Or revenue? Or profit + salary? Does purchasing power parity affect the weighting? What about the effects of US alliances with Europe vs China's alliances? What about the fact that US companies are multinationals, not purely American?

At best you can say that China is on the rise and is a force to be reckoned with. Can't say if it's more or less powerful than USA.


Perhaps, but in the last year things have taken a turn that suggest China's momentum may be taking a turn for the worse recently. Trump's trade war is just a leading indicator, but it's not the only problem they're facing; increasing amounts of the world are seeing them as a direct threat. I'm not sure we can project out China's progress from a politital/economic regime where they were at least effectively unopposed (beyond the normal give and take of any economy), if not actively being given a helping hand, to a regime where they are being actively opposed by an increasing number of economies.

It's possible a trade war will end up being the best possible thing that could happen to them by putting some stress on their economy and helping them sharpen their game, but, then again, it may end up being the case that once again, a Communist regime turns out to be a paper tiger pumped up by a lot of people heavily invested in seeing Communism succeed, only for it to collapse spectacularly once all the internal contradictions are laid bare.

Stay tuned for the next couple of years.


That's valid, but the US might have peaked as well, considering recent internal turmoil.

China is totalitarian/single-party, not very Communist anymore (central planning of economy? Wages and welfare predominantly provided by the State?), and getting less Communist every day. China's CCP is as Communist as the US Greens are "green" or the Democrats are "democrats" vs Republicans being "republican". At a glance, China is converging with US, with China becoming a single-party-rule corporate oligopoly, and US becoming a libertarian corporate oligopoly.


What internal turmoil? Trump? He will be gone in 1-5 years, then it is another political cycle. Nothing unusual. China has had 1 party (communist) rule for 70 years?


What about the political polarization? Do you see it going away as soon as Trump is gone? Or will it get even worse?


The same or worse, which is fine, as it causes gridlock. The last thing I want is single party control.


well I am glad you like the gridlock. Good luck with that.


I agree, let's look at the article itself and what it means by "China's World". It writes about two main dimensions, economic and military.

>Nations have always competed economically, but the U.S. >and China are engaged in direct battle over the world’s >economic life force: technology.

Taiwan has an independent intellectual property system and it's firms hold their intellectual property close. While they do have extensive assembly facilities on the mainland, much of their most specialised facilities are on the island or abroad outside China, see TSMC for example. I don't think it's reasonable to include Taiwan's companies with mainland China in this way.

>..a goal that China expert Graham Allison of Harvard says >includes being “unambiguously No. 1,” with a military >“that can take on and defeat all adversaries.”

Taiwan has an independent government and it's own military which is well armed and lined up in direct opposition to the PROC military, which is permanently poised to annex the island on command. There is no justification for including Taiwan with China when calculating military capability.

So the premise of the actual article argues against including Taiwan with mainland China when calculating it's economic strength.


Ahh, but that wouldn't have gotten as many clicks.

The important thing to remember about China is its population. If China achieves even some degree of "first world" status, it's inevitable that it will dominate on aggregate statistics simply because it has over 1.2 billion people.

Personally as long as China doesn't become truly belligerent I don't think it matters all that much. I'm more interested in America forging ahead than what China is doing. Focus on one's competitors / enemies distracts from focus on the future.


If you want to look at it only in terms of politics, then Hong Kong should also be excluded. I don't think it is.

Taiwan claims all of China as theirs, less so with the current political party, and US policy is also one China. (No surprise if the US is trying to bet on Taiwan to turn China one day into a democratic place.)

So it makes sense to lump all of Chinese power into one big force of influence even if it is politically separated into three or more parts.


People who live in Taiwan are ethnically Chinese and speak Chinese and consider themselves Chinese, and the Taiwanese government considers itself the legitimate government of China (or at least used to until fairly recently). I would say that it is fair to call them Chinese, even if they are not part of the PRC.

Still doesn’t really excuse the article calling it ‘a nation’ when referring to both of them.


I really love the progress China made in very small duration. But does this article sound like promotion/propaganda ?


Fortune Magazine is owned by the same family that owns CP Group, Thailand’s largest conglomerate. Their economic interests in China are clear.

Hear them boast on Wikipedia:

“When China opened up its economy in 1978, the CP Group was the very first foreign investor in the country and became the first foreign company registered in the special economic zone of Shenzhen, Guangdong. The company is the single largest investor in Mainland China today commanding over fifth of China's entire feed meal market.[5] The corporate registration number was "0001."

- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charoen_Pokphand


Sometimes I wonder why HN posters are so instigated by the word propaganda, esp China.


How is it propaganda? If propaganda, is it pro or anti China? It's calling attention to China's emergency from agrarian so society to glob superpower, by noting some major if arbitrary milestones.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg learned Mandarin as an adult. The world is changing in a way most people ignore but people who care notice. It's up to you to decide if it's changing for better or for worse.


It's interesting that a lot of these Chinese companies aren't really keeping up the pace, for example, tssgroup , https://www.tssgroup.com.cn/, I can't even open up their website.


You need to switch to `http://` (from `https://`).


From a global production perspective each time I look at the G500 vs. the F500 I'm reminded about the delta between the global economy and the United States.

Global 500 top 10 [1] - 1 Retail/Grocer, 6 Energy (mostly Oil related), 2 Auto Manufacturers

Fortune 500 top 10 [2] - 1 Retail/Grocer, 1 Energy (Oil related), 3 Tech/Telcom (Apple, Amazon, AT&T), 4 Healthcare, 1 Financial Service

[1] https://fortune.com/global500/2019/search/ [2] https://fortune.com/fortune500/2019/search/


This is a narrow view. The fortune 500 provides no insight into the level of interest each economy holds in the major companies of other nations. Spoiler: the US owns a fucktonne of the world's capital gains


With climate change stalking in the background, I really think it's too early to say whose century - whether China's or anyone else's - this will be.


The map in the article hurts my brain!


It's not China's World considering how they oriented the map so that only the Americas are oriented in the normal way, while all of Eurasia is upside down.


CCP China is the most successful ethno-nationalist/fascist state in modern history.

* With the introduction of a market economy in the 70s and 80s, but retaining full party control of that economy, they fulfilled the economic definition of fascism.

* With their oppression of the Uighur and Tibetan people they have met the ethno-nationalist definition.

We continue to economically support them at our own peril. If you're watching what's happening in Hong Kong and continue to buy Chinese products, when alternatives are available, you're knowingly funding evil.


"Economically support them" implies some misleading parent child relationship, where the parent can kick the kid out of the house for misbehaving.

This is more a dysfunctional couple relationship, where both sides are Co-Dependent. Its not just that they have a ton to loose, it's that they can't do any better without each other.

Google, to their credit, tried existing but look at where that story went. Some couples therapy is overdue but given the fear driven info flows on News and Social Media, it wouldn't be surprising for a Brexit like fiasco, which will hit the people at the bottom of the food chain more than anyone else.

Nothing is going to get fixed in the world until Social and News Media get regulated. All they do is produce Red Queen dynamics - keeping everyone running on fear treadmills without going anywhere.


The world most certainly supports China, out of the desire for greater profits. When we know much of their labor force is forced labor, we are literally outsourcing slavery to them.

If you can knowingly continue to buy products from a regime that is so evil it preserves and dissects political dissidents, then sends them around the world as "human body exhibits" then that's on you. I've decided to do everything within my power to not support that evil, only buying a Chinese made product if there is absolutely no other option, and if I absolutely need the product.


They're different from Nazis in that they consider anyone non-Chinese a periphery and historically only wanted tribute.

That does not count for land that is near though.


And the Italian fascismo were different in many ways but still send ethnic minorities to their death - as we can be 99.9% sure the CCP is. Your argument is a red herring and acts, whether you want it to or not, as apologetics.




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