Since 2012, when the Obama administration decided to invest in global trade and multilateralism, China has been easy money for international brands. The core U.S. doctrine was that if a foreign country eats Big Macs, they are not so likely to oppose Western values. China did play ball too. Reinforcing special investment zones for foreign companies, reigning in (to some degree) the most apparent copycats and IP infringements, and developing a taste for capitalism, if not a completely free market. Fast forward to 2016, and China, second only to Canada, weighs 15% of America’s exports.
Overcoming our lagging perception of China
But for some time now, accelerated by Trump's presidency, many weak signals and no-so-weak signals are starting to point at a different logic. First, Americans realized that China is not on track to being a distant fourth global power.
With its advancements in new mobility, China is positioned to contest U.S. leadership in various technologies. The Chinese government has prioritized development of new energy vehicle (NEV) technology through extensive subsidies and protectionist policies while capturing every stage of the supply chain for NEV batteries. In autonomous and connected vehicles, global competition is increasing as Chinese companies are engaged in pursuit of international markets. - 2021 U.S. Annual Report to Congress