In This Review

By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World
By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World
By Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi
Oxford University Press, 2014, 296 pp

Economy and Levi’s findings thread a path between alarmist and complacent views of China’s impact on the global economy. Chinese demand drives up world prices of oil and copper, but not those of natural gas and bauxite, owing to differences in the market structures surrounding each commodity. Some Chinese companies buy foreign mines and farmland to carry out state strategy, but others consist of private entrepreneurs pursuing commercial interests. Chinese firms might bring pollution and corrupt business practices when they invest abroad, but their behavior depends on the regulatory frameworks of their host countries. China will try to protect its overseas assets and sea-lanes, but with a lighter military hand than the United States uses. Ironically, China pays a bigger reputational cost than other big countries for its firms’ bad practices abroad, so Beijing pushes its enterprises harder to adhere to high standards than do Western governments, although with mixed results. The authors present these nuanced views with exemplary clarity and leave the impression that Washington’s policies toward Beijing do not require fundamental change.