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Capsule Review

The Silk Road Trap: How China’s Trade Ambitions Challenge Europe

In This Review

The Silk Road Trap: How China’s Trade Ambitions Challenge Europe
The Silk Road Trap: How China’s Trade Ambitions Challenge Europe
By Jonathan Holslag
Polity, 2019, 232 pp. Purchase

Holslag claims that China poses a mortal economic threat to Europe and the West. The topic is timely, since the EU is currently considering following the United States in tightening controls on Chinese trade and investment. Of course, this book is hardly the first to list Beijing’s sins: bilateral trade surpluses, unfair treatment of foreign investors and firms, and forced technology transfers. Nor does it contain original data or rigorous analysis. For example, nowhere does Holslag explain why bilateral deficits and debt should matter to a region that runs a net external surplus or specify exactly what political threats a competitive China poses to Europe. The author argues, however, that what is needed is less theory and more policy analysis: in the introduction, he suggests that European countries need to band together and act decisively in order to maximize their economic growth. It is surprising, therefore, that the conclusion proposes no specific policies except, in just one sentence, the adoption of stronger but fewer European standards.

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