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Can China’s Companies Conquer the World?

The Overlooked Importance of Corporate Power

But can you make a semiconductor? A factory in Anhui Province, China, May 2015. STR / AFP / Getty Images

Despite China’s recent economic struggles, many economists and analysts argue that the country remains on course to overtake the United States and become the world’s leading economic power someday soon. Indeed, this has become a mainstream view—if not quite a consensus belief—on both sides of the Pacific. But proponents of this position often neglect to take into account an important truth: economic power is closely related to business power, an area in which China still lags far behind the United States.

To understand how that might affect China’s future prospects, it’s important to first grasp the reasons why many remain bullish on China—to review the evidence that supports the case for future Chinese dominance. At first glance, the numbers are impressive. China’s GDP is likely to surpass that of the United States—although probably not until at least 2028, which is five to

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